Last week, with the Winter Meetings wrapping up, we put together an updated Power Rankings for potential landing spots for Bryce Harper. (Quick version: Your guess is as good as ours!) But Harper is of course only one of the two massive free agents on the market. We owe it
Last week, with the Winter Meetings wrapping up, we put together an updated Power Rankings for potential landing spots for Bryce Harper. (Quick version: Your guess is as good as ours!) But Harper is of course only one of the two massive free agents on the market. We owe it to Manny Machado to run him through the Power Rankings meter himself, particularly with him out meeting with teams this week before the holiday.
There is obviously some crossover between Harper's suitors and Machado's: You've got to have a certain amount of cash to spend to even be a part of this game. But the markets, the needs and the fits are different for each player. And who knows? Maybe someone will end up just grabbing them both.
• Latest Machado free-agent rumors
1. New York Yankees
General manager Brian Cashman has been cagey about the club's interest in Harper, but the Yankees are set to meet with Machado on Wednesday, so there is obvious intrigue. And there does seem to be a more logical fit there for Machado than Harper. Whereas Harper would require figuring out where to fit him, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the lineup, Machado's spot in New York is more clear cut: Didi Gregorius -- the club's primary shortstop in 2018 -- underwent Tommy John surgery in October that will keep him out for much of 2019, and he's set to be a free agent next winter. That means Machado could slide in perfectly at shortstop or third base in the short term and likely third base in the long term, depending on how you want to line up Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres.
There could potentially be an issue with the Yankees' lineup being so overwhelmingly right-handed, though if you've gotta have three right-handed hitters in a row, Judge, Machado and Stanton are three pretty good ones! Machado has both the desire to have his name in lights and the intense enmity among opposing fans that seem to make him a perfect fit in The Bronx. It almost feels like he has been a Yankee already, doesn't it?
2. Philadelphia Phillies
Machado is meeting with the Phillies on Thursday, the last of his three whirlwind visits (though one presumes he's mobile enough to meet with whoever wants to shell out the cash), and no team has a clearer spot for Machado to play. Putting Machado at third base -- a position that's essentially royalty in Philadelphia -- for the next few years locks up a premier spot for a franchise that has already said it's willing to spend "stupid money" this offseason. And if he wants to start at shortstop, the Phillies have already said they'll move Jean Segura off the position if Machado wishes it so. There's still a worry about a culture fit in Philadelphia, a city that, more than anything, reveres guys who "hustle," and one can imagine Mike Schmidt himself having some thoughts about that. But a really good way to win over fans is to be one of the best players in baseball. (Though that didn't always work for Schmidt either.) The Phillies want one of Harper or Machado. They gotta get at least one, right?
3. Chicago White Sox
They're the other team that got the private tour of the SS Machado, and for the same reasons they'd be a great fit for Harper, they make a ton of sense for Machado. There has been much talk of the White Sox trading for Yonder Alonso, Machado's brother-in-law, being an enticement for Machado, but I don't know, you tell me: After last Thanksgiving, did you think, "Hey, I'd like to spend all year with those people?" Machado could be the veteran presence for all those young White Sox hitters -- which is a positive or a negative, depending on your perspective -- and they could essentially grow up around him as their centerpiece. The White Sox might not be as high profile as Machado might like, but they were more than good enough for Michael freaking Jordan, for crying out loud. The White Sox are the most fascinating team to be in on both Machado and Harper, and with all that talent in the system, they could be primed to dominate that division for the next five years … with or without Machado.
4. San Diego Padres
Now we're into the dreaded Mystery Teams, teams that didn't get to meet with Machado this week, and … the Padres are probably due to do something big, aren't they? Machado could give them the excitement they've been looking for for, oh, two decades now, and like the White Sox, they've got a ton of young talent coming up in the next few years. They should have money to spend, and while San Diego isn't exactly the land of 1,000 stars, it's a quick car ride to Los Angeles and, oh yeah, it's San Diego, one of the most beautiful cities in the country. And he would absolutely own this town. It wouldn't surprise me if they're secretly considering this.
5. Los Angeles Angels
Hey, the Angels make a little sense, don't they? You've only got two more years guaranteed with Michael Trout, years in which you desperately need to win: How about showing your commitment to winning by bringing him another top-tier superstar? Machado couldn't play short, but with Andrelton Simmons, they'd have the best left side of the infield in baseball. They're already insanely expensive for 2019, but that's the price of keeping Trout happy -- and getting him, at last, one postseason victory. I don't think the Angels will do this, but they've got to do something.
6. Chicago Cubs
If Machado wants to play shortstop, and absolutely insists on staying at shortstop, the Cubs could make this work, as Addison Russell is no longer the cornerstone he once appeared he could be. They've become an awfully expensive roster, but they should still have plenty of money to spend. It's tough to see how they make too much sense here, considering it'd be odd to take money they should be saving to pay Kristopher Bryant and give to a guy who probably would eventually replace him, but hey, Bryant is six months older than Machado. Give the job to a younger guy!
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
The incumbents didn't exactly look like a team that was clamoring to keep Machado around post-World Series, and they're booked at shortstop and third base anyway. But the Dodgers are always up to something.
8. The field
It's tough to find other fits. The Cardinals might have been in on Machado, but there's no place for him to play after the Paul Goldschmidt trade; same with the Braves and Josh Donaldson. Machado has fewer suitors, it seems, than Harper. Perhaps that's why he will probably wait for Harper to sign first. Either way: Somebody's getting a potential Hall of Famer … and perhaps the most polarizing player in baseball.
Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.