The Yankees are going to get a glimpse of how badly Manny Machado wants to play for them Wednesday when the exceptionally talented infielder visits the club on his tour of interested big-league teams.
At the beginning of the free-agency process, following Machado’s Dodgers getting dominated by the Red Sox in the World Series, the speculation was Machado could command a 10-year deal for $300 million, even after October accusations he was a dirty player and his foolish admission that hustling wasn’t part of his extraordinary skill set.
Should the 26-year-old Machado land that contract, it won’t be from the Yankees, who are intrigued by the talent but not inclined to drop $300 million on one player.
If the Yankees offer fewer years and dollars, it might force Machado to choose between the team he wants to play for and another — the Phillies or White Sox — that offers more seasons and cash.
The Yankees have several activities planned for Machado, who visited the White Sox on Monday and has a visit with the Phillies scheduled for Thursday.
Should the Yankees follow the same game plan they used when hosting free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin, hitting coach Marcus Thames will be on hand to meet with Machado. So, too, will the analytical arm of the Yankees, as well as manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman.
And Carlos Beltran, who like Machado has been represented by Dan Lozano, will be on hand in his new role as special adviser. Hal Steinbrenner, who is on the record as saying he wanted to meet face-to-face with Machado if the process got this far, is busy making plans for his mother, Joan’s, funeral, which is Friday in Florida. It is not clear if he will be on hand Wednesday.
Machado will need to explain his comments about not hustling, especially since at the owners’ meetings last month, Steinbrenner said, “That ain’t gonna sell where we play baseball.”
Though the Yankees won’t go to $300 million, any contract they do with Machado will have a very high annual average value, which could impact what the Yankees do rebuilding a bullpen that needs adjusting with David Robertson and Zach Britton being free agents. Adam Ottavino and Andrew Miller are available, and the Yankees have checked in on lefty Aaron Loup. Japanese lefty free agent Yusei Kikuchi is viewed by some as a reliever and he could fit the Yankees as a long man/spot starter.
Bringing Machado, who hit a combined .297 with 37 homers, 107 RBIs and posted a .905 OPS for the Orioles and Dodgers in 162 games, to the the Bronx could impact the pinstriped futures of Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird.
The main reason the Yankees have an interest in Machado is that they don’t know when Gregorius is going to return from Tommy John surgery. Cashman said last week it could “be June, July or August.’’