The Yankees’ lineup — from top to bottom — should feature nine hitters fully capable of power and reaching base. But there is always room to enhance the roster, and second-year slugger Aaron Judge is trying to lay the groundwork for an inevitably huge splash.
Prior to New York’s 7-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday afternoon, Judge — the reigning American League Rookie of the Year — spent some time chatting with All Star infielder Manny Machado In all likelihood, Machado will receive a whopping contract worth more than $300 million as a member of next offseason’s loaded free agent class.
“Before the game, I asked him how his offseason was, how everything was going,” Judge told NJ.com’s Randy Miller. “I asked him how he liked [moving from third base to short]. I told him, ‘You’d look pretty good in pinstripes, too.’ He just kind of laughed it off. He didn’t really say much.”
Machado, who is entering his seventh season with Baltimore, will turn 26 in July. Since 2015, he’s combined to hit 105 home runs and 103 doubles, along with 277 total RBI. Machado has also made three All Star Game appearances, and has won two Gold Glove awards at third base. This year, he will move over to shortstop — his natural position.
The Machado-Yankees rumors have aged over the past few seasons, but the idea of both parties joining together isn’t far-fetched. In an effort to spend handsomely next winter, New York is striving to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshold in 2018, and according to several pundits, Baltimore won’t be able to afford Machado once his contract expires at season’s end.
Although the Yankees have a touted rookie third baseman in Miguel Andujar, a promising young infielder in Brandon Drury, and a potential franchise shortstop in 28-year-old Didi Gregorius, Machado will certainly remain on Brian Cashman’s radar. After all, the mere thought of the Miami native (who grew up rooting for the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez) playing in The Bronx has made Judge smile, according to NJ.com.
“To add him to our lineup that we’ve already got … it would be something special,” Judge said of Machado. “He’s one heck of a player. He’s been doing it quite a few years at the best level. He’s one of the best, if not the best, defensive third basemen. Now he’s probably going to be one of the best defensive shortstops.
“And what he brings in the offensive side of it, he’s the complete package. So he’s going to be a happy man when it comes to free agency wherever he wants to go.”
The Yankees’ first regular season series with Baltimore is scheduled for April 5-8 at Yankee Stadium, where Machado has hit .280 with six homers and 15 RBI in 161 career at-bats (41 games).