The Orioles aren’t going anywhere this season, but Manny Machado is definitely on his way out of Camden Yards for more important business, and his trade stock probably climbed even higher after he went deep twice Tuesday night to help bury the Yankees, 6-5.
Machado hit a pair of tying home runs, the first a solo shot off Masahiro Tanaka to open the fifth inning (3-3), followed by a two-run blast against Chad Green in the seventh (5-5). The longer Machado remains on the Orioles, the worse it’s been for the Yankees, who would do themselves a favor simply by prying him away from Baltimore.
“When I step between those lines,” Machado said afterward, “I’m ready to go to war and win some games.”
As talented as Machado is, he also seems to enjoy tormenting the Yankees. He’s batting .378 with six homers and 10 RBIs in nine games against them this season. His 22 home runs vs. the Yankees are the most he’s hit against any opponent, including four multi-homer games, joining Jimmie Foxx — who had six — to have that many off the Yankees by age 26.
Buck Showalter, on occasion, still refuses to utter the name of the Bronx outfit he last managed 23 years ago. Before Tuesday night’s game, for instance, he stopped himself mid-sentence and referred to the Yankees as “the team we’re playing tonight.” We don’t believe it was an accident, either.
Yet when Newsday asked Showalter if he’d be surprised to see his Orioles trade Machado to the Yankees, the answer was no. Despite decades of bad blood between the franchises, even Showalter is pragmatic enough to realize that can’t stand in the way of renovating a 26-66 Orioles team, starting with Machado, a 26-year-old perennial MVP candidate.
“I have a lot of confidence if and when Manny gets traded that Dan and his people — his scouts and everything — will get the best return for what they could possibly get,” Showalter said. “If it happens to be with, you know, that team we’re playing tonight, so be it. I’ll leave that in their hands. I’ve got a lot of confidence that they’ll do what’s best for the organization.”
Even now that the Yankees have renewed their interest in the past few days, there are other serious contenders involved, with the Dodgers, Brewers and Diamondbacks linked most prominently to Machado. The only certainty is that the pending free agent will be traded before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, and Machado has made no secret of his desire to remain a shortstop.
That’s no bluff, according to a person who knows him well. When Machado insisted after Monday’s doubleheader that he does not want to move back to third base — even for a contending team — he didn’t mince words.
“I’m a shortstop,” he said. “I play shortstop.” That felt like a not so subtle message to the Yankees, who are more set up to use Machado at third rather than his preferred spot.
Accommodating Machado, however, would require some reshuffling on the Yankees’ part, and Miguel Andujar would be the biggest loser in that deal. Andujar, who has started 71 games at third, was hitting .279 with 12 homers and an .809 OPS entering Tuesday night. But a trade for Machado would likely result in either a demotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or being shipped out in another deal.
“As you know, those are things I have no control of,” Andujar said through his interpreter. “To me it’s about doing what I can, worrying about what I need to do here.”
The nagging question that haunts the Machado-Yankees scenario, however, is difficult to ignore: Is Machado the best allocation of Cashman’s resources at a time when the rotation is the most glaring hole? The Yankees have never been strictly governed by need — see Stanton, Giancarlo — so there’s no reason to expect it to stop them if they feel this is another Stantonesque opportunity. They’ll deal with the fallout later.
“I have not spoken to [Andujar] about that,” Aaron Boone said. “I think he knows how we feel about him, I think he understands how important he’s been to our club and how well he’s played and how much he’s impacted things.”
Unfortunately, this week, the biggest impact on the Yankees has been made by Machado.