The Dodgers May Not Be a Long-Term Machado Fit
Last night, newly-acquired Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado put on a Dodgers jersey for the first time. The number eight jersey was selected for Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Machado said. Machado named his dog "Kobe". But this season may be the only season that Machado will don Dodgers blue, due to several circumstances.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi would not even go so far as a "maybe" when asked if the Dodgers would be interested in re-signing Machado in the offseason:
"Let's have him at least show up in a Dodger uniform before we start asking those questions," he said. "We hope he plays well and creates a good market for himself. We're not worried about what happens past 2018."
There would be many barriers to a Machado deal going forward.
The biggest barrier would be the spending that the Dodgers are doing. The Dodgers opened 2018 clearly trying to stay below the Competitive Balance Tax, most commonly called the "luxury tax". They are right up against it, if not at the number already. Looking ahead to 2019, the Dodgers are not close to clearing up any payroll.
The Dodgers have three free agents-to-be:
- Logan Forsythe, $9 million in 2018
- Yasmani Grandal, $7.9 million in 2018
- Hyun-jin Ryu, $7 million in 2018
The Dodgers will also clear the $1 million that Chase Utley makes when he retires at the season's end. They will also clear $6.5 million in dead money sent in trades.
They could also clear money by non-tendering Yasiel Puig. Puig has two more seasons of team control and may opt into arbitration, as per his contract. Puig is earning $9 million in 2018.
So that is $34 million the Dodgers could clear from people leaving. However, there are many other consideration that will quickly eat that $34 million right back up.
Ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw can exercise an opt-out clause in his contract. Kershaw is earning $33 million this season. Should he opt out, the Dodgers most surely would look to keep him around. While Kershaw is earning $33 million, the average annual value of his contract is what goes against the luxury tax, a number watered down a few million dollars by a $4 million salary in 2014.
In other words, to keep Kershaw, the Dodgers will be pushed further against their luxury tax threshold than they are now and maybe even give him a raise. Speaking of raises, there are many players on their own roster that will be due raises.
Starter Rich Hill will receive a $2 million raise. Kenley Jansen's salary will increase by $8 million. Justin Turner is due an additional $7 million in 2019. But those will not be the only raises.
Many of the club's young talented players are due for arbitration or are moving along the arbitration years into higher salaries. Pitchers Alex Wood and Tony Cingrani are headed to their third year of arbitration. Kike Hernandez is headed to his second year. The two bigger ones will be super-sub Chris Taylor and shortstop Corey Seager.
Speaking of Seager, the star shortstop should return to his customary position next season after missing most of 2018 with "Tommy John" surgery. That means under contract will be infielders Seager, Turner, Muncy, Taylor, and first baseman Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger can play the outfield but there are plenty of players there under contract: Puig, if he stays, Matt Kemp, and Joc Pederson can complete an outfield.
A lot will depend on the sense of urgency the Dodgers have to win a World Series. If they are victorious in 2018, maybe the sense of urgency will be less. The Dodgers can probably find room on the field for Machado if they wish, but they will really be strapped financially. That could be way Zaidi's comments read as if he will mainly be a rental.
That means the Phillies might have a better chance than a team with the means to sign Machado. The Yankees will probably be in pursuit of Machado, and there are at least some reports that Machado is interested in joining the Yankees, and we know that the Yankees made a trade offer for Machado so they had at least some interest in him.
The Phillies have many executives with a history with Machado, including president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, assistant general manager Ned Rice and scouting director Joe Jordan. They will likely do their best going full-court press for Machado this offseason.
If they successfully sign Machado, they will have done so without costing them any prospects in trade. And, since he was traded this season, the Phillies will not need to forfeit a draft pick to sign Machado, either. But until then, the Phillies have to wait out the season and hopefully win.
But the Phillies chances to sign Machado long-term were not hurt by this trade. That's a good thing.