EDITOR'S NOTE: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Wednesday is dedicated to Dodgers infielder Manny Machado.
BOSTON -- If Manny Machado goes to the Yankees, New York would be raising the stakes in the American League East both on the field and off. The pressure on Boston just might not be seen for another winter.
The gain the Yanks would have immediately on the field is obvious. Machado, the five-tool player who struck out as a member of the Dodgers to end the 2018 World Series, has been no stranger to controversy in his time in the American League East. But he’s still a tremendous talent, and beyond that, young. He’s entering his age-26 season.
This offseason, there wouldn’t be a logical countermove for the Red Sox to make in terms of an outside acquisition. Not with the Sox already looking at a huge payroll and most of their stars returning for at least one more hurrah.
FREE AGENT FOCUS
This offseason is really the Yankees’ time to land a counter-punch, because the Sox won by knockout in 2018. Go down the list. From the success of J.D. Martinez in comparison to Giancarlo Stanton — the teams’ respective prizes last year — to the Sox’ third straight division title; from Boston’s dominant performance in a head-to-head match-up in the ALDS, to finally, the Sox winning it all.
The Yankees are bruised, the Sox are standing tall, and its incumbent upon the Yanks to act. And if they do sign Machado, presumably for a very long time, the pressure on the Sox to maintain their competitive window and lock up their own Machado-like talent grows. They wouldn’t have to do anything immediately, necessarily. But for Machado to sign in New York, and then to see, say, Mookie Betts walk away in two years? J.D. Martinez and/or Chris Sale and/or Xander Bogaerts in just one?
The pressure builds on the Sox to keep up with the Yanks long term, and Machado is precisely that: a long-term move.
Indirectly, the Yankees can essentially set the price for the Red Sox going forward. Consider that a little bonus for New York to potentially shelling out all that money for Machado. Betts and his camp, and everyone else in the baseball world, will be closely watching what Machado gets, what Bryce Harper gets. And from there, the prices could keep going up. That’ll be true no matter where Machado signs, but it could ease the sting a tiny bit for the Yankees: the knowledge that whatever they pay, the Red Sox will probably have to ante up the same amount, if not more, at some point in the future as well, if the Sox indeed want to keep up.
For now, though, it's on the Yanks to play a game of keep-up. Their turn to volley.
MORE ON MANNY MACHADO
- Machado's attractive to the White Sox, but . . .
- Giants and Manny Machado aren't a match, and here's why
- Despite his flaws, Machado would look really good in a Phillies uniform
- Why Machado to A's not worth big money or headache
- Nats can afford to lose Bryce Harper, the Orioles will just lose with or without Manny Machado
COMING THURSDAY: Nathan Eovaldi
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