Manny Machado is arguably one of the best third basemen in the league.
At the tender age of 24, he has won two Gold Gloves and has been voted to three All-Star games. On average, he’s hitting 36 homers and 91 RBIs and is continuing to add to his resume. He hit a crucial home run Friday night against the Yankees and stole a base hit from Blue Jay's Devon Travis Opening Day on an insane catch. He will become a free agent in 2018 and is expected to make at least $300 million, but the third baseman told reporter's he's trying to live in the moment.
“My future is to play baseball. If I don’t play baseball, I’m not going to do anything, so if I don’t go out there and produce today, I might not have an opportunity to get [a big contract],” Machado said. “So I don’t think that far along. I just try to stay in the moment and stay pitch by pitch. That’s why baseball’s a beauty, because if you start thinking ahead or you start thinking about this, that’s when you go into all these slumps.
Machado showed us last season that he is not just capable of playing third base, but can also cover shortstop. During the 2016 season, Machado played 45 games at shortstop while J.J. Hardy was out with a fractured left foot. This scenario could play out again as Hardy’s contract is up in 2017 and the O’s would have to pay him his $14 million option to keep him on the roster. Machado told FOX Sports that playing shortstop has been on his mind.
“It’s always been there, I’m not going to lie. It’s always been there. . . I played a little bit there (last year). That was fun. I trained this year to play there just in case anything happened. I wasn’t ready last year to do it. It kind of took a toll on my body. But I came prepared this year for anything. It’s there. [But] I’ve made myself who I am playing third base. Everything I’ve done has been third base. I’ve won my Gold Gloves. I’ve done my thing over there, so why change? That’s the big question people always ask: ‘Why do you want to change when you’re the player who you are now?’ I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.”
And there is no question that his fellow teammates understand the type of player they have on their team.
“You always wonder what it would feel like to play with one of the greatest of all time — say, a Ken Griffey Jr,” Orioles first baseman Chris Davis says. “I catch myself sometimes saying, ‘Am I in the same infield as one of the all-time great third basemen?'”
Davis went on to say,
“Some of the plays he makes, you can’t even practice ’em. Who practices catching groundballs in the dirt in foul territory and throwing guys out? He has raised the bar for our infield. And he has set the bar so high for himself, he’s expected to make those plays.”
Machado's diverse skill set could come in handy come 2018. Being able to play both positions will make him more marketable to other teams and gives him the opportunity to play whichever position he feels stronger at depending on his age. For Machado, playing his best baseball right now is what's important to him.
“I don’t set expectations. I’d just like to stay healthy and leave it all on the field. That’s the only thing we can control at the end of the day. We put our hard work in in the offseason and during the year to do the things that we get paid to do so I just don’t expect anything.”