Yankees’ hunt for Manny Machado gets added hurdle


BBALTIMORE — Manny Machado may end up in The Bronx just yet.

With Machado almost certainly on his way out of Baltimore this month, the Yankees are in the hunt for the Orioles star, according to a source.

At issue for the Yankees is whether they want to acquire Machado or a starting pitcher, which is a greater area of need as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Machado reiterated following Monday’s doubleheader against the Yankees at Camden Yards that he has no interest in returning to third base. The Yankees have Didi Gregorius at shortstop and Miguel Andujar at third.

“I’m a shortstop,’’ Machado said when asked if he’d shift positions to go to a contender. “I play shortstop.”

That hasn’t stopped the Yankees from expressing interest in the 26-year-old All-Star, who is having perhaps his best offensive season. The “increased interest” was first reported by The Athletic. “I ain’t here to talk about rumors,’’ Machado said following a 10-2 Yankee win in the second game of Monday’s twinbill. “A rumor is just a rumor. I play baseball. We got our ass kicked today in the second game.”

While the Dodgers, Brewers and Phillies have emerged as among the favorites to land the best position player on the market, the Yankees showed when they swooped in to trade for Giancarlo Stanton in December when Miami’s market dried up, they can never be discounted when one of the best players in the game is available.

The Yankees can put together a package of prospects that would rival anyone, but they are determined to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. With that in mind, they may only be able to afford one big-ticket item at the deadline, and Machado is due a little less than half the $16 million the Orioles are paying him this season before he enters free agency.

The list of starting pitchers who figure to be traded this month is hardly overwhelming, which could make the pursuit of Machado more appealing. Team and industry sources continue to have a hard time believing Orioles owner Peter Angelos would send his superstar to the Yankees, but with Baltimore in the midst of a historically bad season, they may be inclined to take the best offer for Machado, regardless of who it comes from.

During the offseason, the teams talked, but that was before Andujar and Gleyber Torres went from top prospects to among the best offensive infielders in the game. The Yankees wouldn’t comment on the situation. As for Machado, he simply wanted to “talk baseball” after the game.

Tim Naehring, the Yankees’ vice president of Baseball Operations, was with the team in Baltimore on Monday, but his presence was hardly out of the ordinary. Naehring was at a series in Tampa Bay last month. Machado addressed general trade rumors before Monday’s doubleheader, prior to the Yankees option reopening.

“Everywhere, I see it’s just Manny, Manny, Manny,” Machado said. “It kind of gets a little distracting at times. … Like I said before, I’ve answered all the questions I needed to answer. Obviously there’s going to be some more new questions coming out there at that time. I’m sure there’s probably going to be quite a few teams that they’re going to want to ask questions about. Those are just things that I’m just going to have to deal with it when it comes and just try to enjoy the moment when I get there.”