The New York Yankees have an injured shortstop. And so White Sox fans' dream scenario for the upcoming offseason might have just flown out the window.
It seemed the Yankees might have already been among the favorites to reel in Manny Machado, one of the biggest names in this offseason's loaded free-agent class, what with their always-big bank account and the promise of surrounding him with an impressive fleet of young stars. They won 100 games without Machado, imagine what they could do with him. Sounds like a pretty good sales pitch.
But now they can offer Machado something else he wants: the chance to continue being an everyday shortstop.
Didi Gregorius is heading for Tommy John surgery, plucking the starting shortstop out of the Yankees' lineup and giving the Bronx Bombers a hole at Machado's position of choice.
Prior to this news, which came out around lunchtime Friday, there was no reason for the Yankees to move on from Gregorius, who has belted 72 home runs for them over the past three seasons, including a career-best 27 of them in 2018. That dinger total went along with a career-high .829 OPS and a career-high 10 stolen bases. As White Sox fans who have long been dreaming of Machado coming to the South Side know, Machado's a great player and would be an upgrade over most every other hitter in the game. But those numbers from Gregorius are nothing to complain about.
Now, though, Gregorius will be sidelined until the middle of next season, giving the Yankees the perfect excuse to make that upgrade. And Machado is "believed" to be interested in heading to the Bronx.
Machado signing with the White Sox was always going to take an awful lot of work. After all, the South Siders would have to pitch hoped-for future success to the 26-year-old in the face of win-now promises from contending clubs. And there would be the sticky situation of Tim Anderson entrenched at shortstop for the foreseeable future. And then there are the financial implications, the White Sox probably needing to bid alongside some of baseball's biggest spenders.
Obviously Machado would be a huge addition to any lineup and improve the championship hopes of any team. He finished the regular season with career highs in batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.367) and slugging percentage (.538). He matched career bests with 37 homers and 70 walks and set a new one with 107 RBIs. He's already hit two home runs this postseason as his Los Angeles Dodgers chase a World Series title.
But as is the case with any big-ticket, long-term addition this winter, the White Sox not only have to face the same questions any team would when it comes to making such a move. They need to figure out during how much of that contract they would be a contending club. Injuries to a host of top prospects in 2018 — headlined, of course, by Michael Kopech's Tommy John surgery, which will knock him out for the entirety of the 2019 campaign — has thrown an added element of mystery to the timeline of the rebuilding effort.
Machado will obviously test the market this winter, and it looks like he could receive one of baseball's all-time biggest contracts (alongside fellow free agent Bryce Harper). But with the Yankees now in need of a shortstop after feeling the sting of playoff elimination at the hands of the rival Boston Red Sox, they figure to be rather motivated.