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DENVER, CO - AUGUST 23: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies warms up in the on deck circle before facing the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on August 23, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

MLB hot stove: Yankees pivot toward Manny Machado if Nolan Arenado signs extension with Rockies?

 

As if the major league offseason hasn’t been strange enough, it turns out the Colorado Rockies could unintentionally throw a wrench in the Yankees’ future plans.  

Over the past few weeks, multiple outlets have reported that part of the Yankees’ reluctance to pursue free agent superstar Manny Machado is due to their budding interest in Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is eligible to hit the open market in 2020.  But there’s a distinct possibility that Colorado will soon prevent the Yankees — among other clubs — from bidding on the 27-year-old infielder next winter. 

According to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, Rockies owner Dick Monfort is optimistic that the team will be able to sign Arenado to a long-term contract extension either this season or prior to the start of free agency in November.

“I think we’ve gotten it to the point where we’re to the finals,” Monfort said.  “We’re to the crescendo… I’m comfortable that we can get a number that we can get to… There are a lot of things that have to go through Nolan’s mind, too.  But I’m confident that after we met, Nolan wants this to happen as much as we do.”

Last week, the Rockies and Arenado avoided an arbitration hearing by settling on a one-year contract worth $26 million.  No player in baseball history has ever received this much money in an arbitration year, and as a result of those negotiations, Monfort believes Colorado is capable of accommodating Arenado’s financial requests when the time comes. 

So, if the Rockies and Arenado agree to terms soon, would the Yankees feel some pressure to rejoin the Machado sweepstakes?  It’s not out of the question, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

“If Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado foregoes his right to become a free agent, he probably will want at least $250 million, a number he might approach if not exceed next winter on the open market,” Rosenthal recently wrote.  “And if Arenado gets such an extension without the benefit of competitive bidding, it will be a potentially game-changing development, strengthening the argument for Harper and Machado to get lucrative 10-year contracts, elevating the market for future free agents, forcing teams that coveted Arenado to devise new plans.”

Both Arenado and Machado are two-way studs on Hall of Fame tracks.  In 2018, Arenado hit .297 (130 OPS-plus) with a league-leading 38 home runs and 110 RBI.  He also finished third in the NL MVP vote, and won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove award.  As for Machado, the 26-year-old batted .297 (150 OPS-plus) with 37 homers and 107 RBI between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.  But he also damaged his reputation during the playoffs when he told The Athletic that he’ll never be “Johnny Hustle.”

Machado reportedly has a seven-year, $175 million offer on the table from the Chicago White Sox.  Although the Yankees met with Machado in December, it’s unknown whether the team has made him a formal offer since.  At the moment, it appears the Yankees will stick with sophomore Miguel Andujar at third base.  The 23-year-old AL Rookie of the Year runner-up hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI in 2018, but was often a defensive liability. 

Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Tampa on Wednesday, February 13, and the team’s first full-squad workout is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19.

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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