The Yankees have long been connected to Manny Machado, and although the Orioles superstar can hit free agency next offseason, it's not out of the question that the Yanks might make another major trade.It remains a long shot -- complicated by teams' aversion to trading with clubs withinin their divisions
The Yankees have long been connected to Manny Machado, and although the Orioles superstar can hit free agency next offseason, it's not out of the question that the Yanks might make another major trade.
It remains a long shot -- complicated by teams' aversion to trading with clubs withinin their divisions -- but MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, writing for The Athletic (subscription required), explored one possibility that could land Machado in pinstripes.
One of the major roadblocks for the Yankees at this point in the offseason has been avoiding the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. Currently, they sit between $16 million and $22 million below the mark, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Since the Yankees have exceeded the luxury-tax threshold for 15 straight seasons, any overage is taxed at a 50-percent rate. Should they dip below the $197 million mark, their penalty rate would be reset so that the next time they exceeded the threshold, the penalty would be 20 percent.
With the money obstacle out of the way, here's how Rosenthal's trade scenario would play out:
1. The Yankees acquire Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi for mid-level prospects.
- The Yanks package Odorizzi with Jacoby Ellsbury and a high-level prospect for Machado.
Since Ellsbury is due $68.4 million over the next three seasons, the Yankees would have to pay for a significant chunk of his salary. Rosenthal approximated that they could pay about half of the remaining money and pointed to the team's No. 5 prospect, Miguel Andujar, as a likely trade piece to Baltimore.
Andujar is the No. 65 overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and would serve as a natural replacement for Machado. Andujar made it up to the Majors for a brief stay in September and could take over at the hot corner with Timothy Beckham sliding back to shortstop. The O's have been reported to be interested in pitching for Machado, so Odorizzi -- who has two years of team control remaining -- would fill that need.
However, there are obvious complications in this scenario. First and foremost, Ellsbury has a no-trade clause and has not indicated he would accept a deal to Baltimore that would likely force him to shift to left field. Furthermore, there's no guarantee that the Rays or Orioles would want to deal with rivals, and if the O's really wanted Odorizzi, they could make a trade without using the Yanks as middle man.
Such a deal would cement the Yankees as having the best lineup in baseball, with a fearsome middle of the order that would include Aaron Judge, newly acquired Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. It also would allow them to stay under the luxury tax by shedding half of Ellsbury's salary.
There are still plenty of scenarios remaining. There are scores of quality free agents still available, and the Orioles could yet make a run for the playoffs with Machado leading the way. But until Machado is traded and/or signs with a team next offseason, the Yankees will loom large.
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.