Sorry New York and Philly, Manny Machado is going to the Chicago White Sox
Obviously, as of January 10th, there is nothing set in stone surrounding the future destination of Manny Machado's exceptional baseball talents, but fans in the Bronx and Philadelphia need to start moving on from the thought of adding the All-Star Shortstop to their rosters.
Yes, going to the New York Yankees gives Machado an opportunity to play for the most decorated franchise in United States sports history. He'd be able to fill the Yankees' void at Shortstop that hasn't been properly filled since Derek Jeter retired. The legacy Machado could create in the New York spotlight has no boundaries. The only issue, the Yankees have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton who are clearly the two faces of the franchise. Machado would most likely have to play the third wheel behind those two.
In Philadelphia, Machado would instantly be the face of a franchise that seems to be on the come up. The Phillies already have a good young shortstop in Scott Kingery and traded for Mariners shortstop Jean Segura this offseason. Depth at Shortstop is a bit muddled and Machado has said publicly that he wants to play Shortstop exclusively, but Kingery and Segura have shown the ability to be utility players in the past. Finding other spots on the field for those two shouldn't be too much of a task. Adding Machado would throw the Phillies right into the mix of the NL East that undoubtedly got stronger this offseason, but that could also turn Machado away from Philly. Philadelphia's path to the 2019 Postseason and beyond is much tougher than his other suitors.
Insert the Chicago White Sox.
At the begging of this offseason, Chicago was near the top of the list of favorites for Machado. The Chicago Cubs, not the Chicago White Sox. However, as the offseason has progressed, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has positioned his team to strike it big and win the Machado sweepstakes.
In February of 2017, the Players Tribune published a piece detailing the relationship between three Major Leaguers from the Miami, Florida area, one being Manny Machado. The other two? Machado's brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, and outfielder Jon Jay. Essentially, the piece describes the brotherhood the three share from growing up in the same neighborhoods and their Latin culture. In an excerpt, Alonso explains,
"We all play on different teams now, but everyone knows we have a special bond. When one of these guys comes to town, my teammates will be like, “Look out … the Miami crew is here.” We’ll pick each other up at the airport! Everybody just knows how it is. Miami guys stick together."
You're probably wondering what do these three players' bond have to do with the White Sox?
Glad you asked. Here's where Rick Hahn's genius comes into play. In December, Hahn executed a trade with a division rival, the Cleveland Indians, to bring Alonso to the south side of Chicago. Then, two days ago (December 8th) Hahn inked Jay to a one year deal. By adding two of Machado's closest friends in the league to a team that already has strong Cuban and Dominican ties (Wellington Castillo, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Kelvin Herrera, and Ivan Nova), Hahn has kicked the door open to Machado's path to Chicago.
While adding his friends to the roster is a big step towards landing Machado, it's not the only incentive the Sox can offer him. Though the Chicago metro-area is half the size of New York and the national media isn't as crazy in Chicago as they are in New York, Chicago-Metro is still the fourth largest in North America and will allow Machado to still have a large spotlight on him, especially has the face of the franchise.
Furthermore, the White Sox path to a Division Title is much clearer than Philadelphia's and not as tough as the Yankees. Sure, the Indians have been the kings of the AL Central over the past couple of seasons, but are certainly not the Boston Red Sox (if Machado went to New York) and most likely won't need 100 wins to beat. The Minnesota Twins have been competitive at times but haven't quite been able to break through into the category of a contender. The Detroit Tigers are in the midst of a major roster overhaul and the Kansas City Royals refuse to spend any money. In reality, all the White Sox have to do is overcome the Indians and signing Machado along with the other additions the Sox have made this offseason could be enough to put them over the hump and into The Postseason.
Put all three together (friends, spotlight, playoffs) and you've got one excellent free agent destination for Manny Machado.
As I mentioned, in the first sentence, nothing is close to official, in terms of a deal, but I'm calling it how I see it. Manny Machado will be the Chicago White Sox starting Shortstop in Opening Day 2019.