Manny Machado's free-agent saga has dragged on seemingly forever, and certain White Sox fans who once desperately wanted him in black pinstripes now get agitated by every tweet that mentions his name.
Such is life in the 2018-19 baseball offseason.
Well, there's still no Machado decision, but there is another Machado update, this one a 1-2 punch from the New York Post's Joel Sherman and MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
First, Sherman took a look at whether Machado — or the other mega free agent the baseball world is waiting on, Bryce Harper — would be willing to punt a massive-money contract to next offseason rather than accept one of the lower-than-expected bids this winter. The prospect of Machado or Harper taking a one-year deal would have seemed ludicrous mere months ago, when they were both expected to receive decade-long deals worth $300 million or more. Well, those apparently haven't materialized, at least in Machado's case, with the only reported offer being the one he got from the White Sox, reportedly worth $175 million over seven years.
But Sherman laid out some interesting points in favor of Machado doing such a thing. It could allow Machado to test out a team before committing himself to one for the better part of the next decade, especially when the three teams going after him — the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres — are focused on future success rather than simply being a contender in 2019. That doesn't apply quite as much to the Phillies, who probably feel Machado would make them a contender for the upcoming season. But the White Sox and Padres, even with Machado, wouldn't figure to be playoff teams in 2019.
Sherman also mentions how a one-year deal could also better position Machado to land with his preferred team, the New York Yankees, on a long-term deal. While the Yankees' infield is crowded now, there are questions about Miguel Andujar's ability to be the third baseman of the future there, and the Rookie of the Year runner up has had his name mentioned in trade rumors throughout the offseason. Troy Tulowitzki is on a one-year deal for 2019. And Didi Gregorius, the team's starting shortstop on the mend from Tommy John surgery, is slated to hit free agency next offseason. In other words, the Yankees could have much bigger need for Machado after the 2019 season than they do ahead of it.
Of course, a one-year deal for Machado would make no sense at all for the White Sox, who are entirely focused on competing in the long term. Acquiring Machado for one season, a season in which the team is not expected to contend for a championship, with no guarantee that he'd stick around once the contention window fully opens, is pointless and does nothing to accomplish any of the franchise's long-term goals. So even if it would be a potentially attractive move for Machado, it'd likely be a non-starter for Rick Hahn and his front office.
Then there's the other part of this update, from Heyman, who tweeted that Machado might not be happy with the offers he's received so far this offseason.
As mentioned, the only one of those we've heard supposed details about is the one from the White Sox, who reportedly offer a seven-year contract worth $175 million. It's worth noting that Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, issued a formal statement calling those reported details wrong. But a bunch of reports contradicted one that the White Sox offer was worth $250 million over eight years. So it's no surprise that Machado's camp might not have received the offers it was expected he would get when the offseason began.
Heyman added that Machado might simply be waiting to see if the Yankees will come calling. They played host to Machado during his free-agent tour in December, but they've been considered out of the running for his services since signing infielders Tulowitzki and D.J. LeMahieu and spending big dollars on free-agent relief pitchers Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino. But if Machado's desire to play in The Bronx is as strong as has been reported, maybe he'd be willing to take a less-than-ideal offer from the Yankees before he would take one from other suitors such as the White Sox.
Of course, the Yankees may not be feeling the union as much as Machado is:
Just to be clear, while Machado may still be holding onto long-shot hopes for the Yankees, there’s no evidence that still could happen.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 4, 2019
So what does this mean for the White Sox? They could currently be the highest bidder. It's been reported that Machado will go to the highest bidder above all else. Of course, the White Sox believe themselves to be strong in the "all else" category, too, providing something that no other team can: the ability to team with Miami friends Yonder Alonso (also Machado's brother-in-law) and Jon Jay.
But Machado's continued dragging out of this process might not be good news. Is his camp so unhappy with the White Sox offer that it will take another to get him to the South Side? Or does he so badly want to play for a team not currently pursuing him that he'll wait as long as possible to see if they'll jump in? The White Sox want Machado now, but does that make any difference? If everything with the White Sox offer and the opinion Machado has of the organization was good, wouldn't he already be on the team?
As has been the case through this entire process, it seems we don't know what's really going on. What we do know: Still no decision from Machado. Or Harper, for that matter. We're just a week away from spring training, and the offseason keeps on dragging on.