Over the past several days, Manny Machado scored the winning run in the 13th inning of a National League Championship Series game, told Ken Rosenthal that hustling to first base is not his "cup of tea," slid impermissibly into second base, and was described as "a dirty player" by the
Over the past several days, Manny Machado scored the winning run in the 13th inning of a National League Championship Series game, told Ken Rosenthal that hustling to first base is not his "cup of tea," slid impermissibly into second base, and was described as "a dirty player" by the presumptive NL MVP Award winner.
Dizzying? Sure. Flattering? Not especially. And once there are no games left in 2018 -- whether or not Machado's Dodgers win their first World Series in 30 years -- the industry will be left to ponder the price of those perceptions.
To put it bluntly: Will fresh evidence of Machado's flaws -- particularly his admission to Rosenthal that he should "[give] a little more effort" on the field -- cost him in free agency this offseason?
The impact will be "minimal," one high-ranking club executive said Thursday, and others around the industry concurred.
It's impossible to declare with certainty that Machado's market value diminished in recent days. No general manager has told me that last week he was prepared to pay Machado $300 million over 10 years -- and the slew-footing of Jesus Aguilar dropped the figure to a mere $200 million.
And even if that were the case, one GM's change in valuation might have little (or no) bearing on the guaranteed amount of Machado's eventual deal, as long as the interest of other clubs remains steady.
Analytical data will heavily influence the years and dollars in every Machado offer; that is generally good news for him, as numbers tend to produce favorable portrayals of 26-year-olds at their athletic peak. In addition, Machado's future earnings will be shaped by the input of executives, scouts, managers and coaches who have followed him for years. And for those close observers, the controversy of the past week has been a reminder -- not a revelation.
Christian Yelich's characterization of Machado's clipping of Aguilar as "a dirty play by a dirty player" was noteworthy. But it was not surprising in light of past incidents, including a takeout slide that injured Boston's Dustin Pedroia last year, charging the mound against Yordano Ventura in 2016, and throwing a bat toward third baseman Josh Donaldson two years earlier.
As for his inconsistent effort running to first base, Machado told Rosenthal, "I've done the same thing for eight years." As one longtime scout affirmed to me Thursday: "That's been Manny since Day 1."
Another description of Manny since Day 1: His 175 home runs rank fifth all time among infielders through their age-25 season. The names ahead of him: Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx and Orlando Cepeda.
In a sport that venerates being available every day, Machado's reliability is beyond reproach. He has played 637 games over the past four regular seasons, the most in the Major Leagues. Machado was one of only seven Major Leaguers to appear in 162 games in 2018.
Machado's ability to play third base or shortstop is valuable to teams, as is his contact rate in a swing-and-miss era. He had the third-fewest strikeouts of any player to produce 30 home runs and 100 RBIs this year.
For all of those reasons, Machado was the most coveted position player in baseball leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Phillies wanted him then and probably will try to sign him this offseason. The Yankees are expected to pursue Machado, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, especially with Didi Gregorius coming off Tommy John surgery.
Thus, the effect of a turbulent week on Machado is likely to be "marginal," one rival team official said. Of course, "marginal" is a relative term. If Machado had been in line for a $300 million offer, and now a team loves him 5 percent less, those misadventures on the bases came with a $15 million penalty.
The reality is that Machado will become a very wealthy man this offseason, because your team's front office likely feels similarly about him now as it did last week.
And probably last year, too.
Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.