Stock Analysis - Manny Machado (MCDO): Bearish or Bullish?
by Tyler Young
Manny Machado has turned a lot of heads this postseason, and it hasn’t been because of how well he is playing. Instead, there are experts claiming that the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop, a pending free agent, has cost himself money this winter because of a poor attitude, a lack of hustle and some especially dirty play.
Not so long ago, it seemed like Machado had a chance to set a record with the contract he would receive following this season -- more than Clayton Kershaw, more than Alex Rodriguez and even more than Giancarlo Stanton. There was talk of a $400+ million deal. As the years went on, and free agents have struggled to get the massive contracts they sought, that $400 million figure fell to the wayside. Machado’s recent antics could cause it to fall even lower.
In Game 2 of the NLCS, he dogged it to first base on a ground ball, and then made comments that he would never be known as “Johnny Hustle”. It wasn’t his style. In Game 3, he attempted two different take out slides of Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia, grabbing at Arcia’s legs as he threw the ball to first base. And in Game 4 came the worst of it. Machado purposefully kicked Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the foot as he crossed the bag following a ground out. Aguilar addressed him at the time, and the Brewers were rightfully upset afterwards.
Dozens of think pieces have been written on the subject by now. Outlets that cover the New York Yankees, one of the favored landing spots for Machado this offseason, have oscillated between saying the dirty play is nothing to worry about and that it should remove him from consideration to sign with the Pinstripers. Fans have been turned off by Machado’s behavior.
It’s a reasonable reaction. Fans want players that they can easily root for. If he had grown up in a team’s system, like he did with the Orioles, then it was simple to overlook his immature tendencies, which those in Birdland did many times. But Machado will be an outsider unless he takes the unlikely step of returning to Baltimore or re-upping with L.A. Fans aren’t as supportive of a well-paid, unfamiliar face.
Machado’s outbursts are not a new occurrence. Take a look at his record: He tossed a helmet at Josh Donaldson for tagging him too hard. He threw his bat at Alberto Callaspo because he thought Fernando Abad was trying to bean him with several pitches. He fought the late Yordano Ventura for another beanball incident. He started a beef with the Red Sox after over-sliding second base and injuring Dustin Pedroia. This is a pattern for Machado. One that, as a 26-year-old man, he should have grown out of by now.
But we all know that this will have almost no impact on his ability to land a massive free agent deal somewhere this winter. He’s the best player on the market, one of the best players of his generation, and he plays a premium position, where offense can be limited at times. Any team that signs him will be getting several years of prime production at the plate and, perhaps, Gold Glove level work in the field.
Teams have made it clear that they have no problem acquiring players with personal flaws; flaws that are much more serious than Machado’s transgressions. Aroldis Chapman choked his girlfriend and shot off a gun eight times during the incident. The Yankees traded for him a few weeks later and then rewarded him $86 million the next year, a record for a relief pitcher. Roberto Osuna was arrested for assault and served a 50-game suspension. The Astros got him this past July and made him a key cog in their well-regarded bullpen.
There has never been even a hint of problems for Machado away from the diamond. By all accounts, he is a model citizen. There’s no playboy lifestyle; he married his childhood sweetheart when he was 22 years old. There have been no suspensions for non-baseball activities. He has no arrest record.
Machado seems like a jerk on the baseball field. He gets into avoidable scuffles. That’s a problem that he needs to figure out. Any team that signs him should do what they can to address this. But he presents interested front offices with nothing more than a minor headache that can quickly be eased when he hits yet another home run or throws out a runner with his cannon of an arm. Don’t believe the analysts. Machado is going to make a ton of money from a team hungry for his production. His most recent outbursts won’t change that.