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3 dark horse teams that should sign Manny Machado

Manny Machado, MLB

In the constant on again, off again rumor mill involving Manny Machado, a few teams have been diagnosed as being “in” on him, most notably the Chicago White Sox. Coming off a miserable year that resulted in the franchise earning its fourth-ever 100+ loss season, change is needed.

Having a payroll just a bit over $80 million helps with reshaping and rebuilding, yet the franchise has done next to nothing to help speed up that process. Throwing their hat into the ring on Machado is a step in the right direction for them, something that could potentially turn into a huge step if he decides to take his talents and sign with the worse Chicago team.

But what if a dark horse team came around and scooped up Machado with an offer that he could not refuse? Giving him a deal that exceeds the rumored/reported/shot-down amounts of eight years and around $200 million may be hard to do, but if a team wants to come out of the shadows and reel Machado in, they best not miss.

Manny Machado, Padres

3. Let’s start with another team in need of a star

A dark-horse squad fit for Machado, the San Diego Padres currently only pay one player over $7 million, first baseman Eric Hosmer, who did anything but live up to the first year of his deal. Machado would fit perfectly into the team’s young core, sliding right in to playing shortstop and pairing up with Ian Kinsler up the middle.

Machado’s deal would easily top the payroll, but even if he was brought in on a deal that averaged out to $30 million per season, he would only push the Padres’ payroll to $102 million, minuscule in terms of guaranteed money for a roster. Last season, San Diego barely kept itself under the 100-loss line, pulling into the finish line with a 66-96 record, good for 25.5 games behind National West divisional winner Los Angeles Dodgers.

While the Padres do not tend to spend a ton of money, they did shell out a massive eight-year, $144 million deal for Hosmer to play first base through 2025. Machado’s deal could be structured similarly to Hosmer’s, as his final three years (2023-2025) are player option years at $13 million apiece, $7 million less than his AAV his previous five seasons.

Machado would present a building block that would be coupled with Hosmer through the rebuild, something that the Padres would then jumpstart if they brought Machado into hitter-friendly Petco Park.

Manny Machado, Rockies

2. Let’s stay in the National League West

Keeping it in the division, the Colorado Rockies would constitute as another solid landing spot if Machado were to go off the beaten path in choosing his next team. Currently sitting a shade over $114 million, Colorado could conceivably bring Machado in while having the franchise’s largest-ever payroll.

The NL West is a division that seemingly is always up for grabs, and the Dodgers seem to capitalize on rivals’ mistakes to take the crown, but the Rockies could easily stave them off by using one of their former lightning rods against them.

While the team currently has Trevor Story manning shortstop, he could slide over and be Machado’s middle infield partner at second, moving newly-signed Daniel Murphy over to first base, which he played a bit for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. Imagine an infield, read from third to first, starting with Nolan Arenado and Machado, sounds pretty exciting.

This move could also help secure Arenado in the Rocky Mountains, persuading him to sign an extension and keep him out of the grasps of the New York Yankees and other big-moolah franchises.

Manny Machado, Tigers

1. A extreme true dark horse for Machado

The final under-the-radar franchise that could reap the benefits of signing him would be the lone American League franchise on this list, the Detroit Tigers. Consistently underperforming, the Tigers managed to finish third in the AL Central in 2018…with 98 losses.

The Central, which every year ends up being the Cleveland Indians’ to lose, could easily be taken over with the Indians cutting costs and potentially moving on from big stars before spring training begins. Detroit has a decent-enough core that by adding a few pieces and holding onto others would push them into fighting with Cleveland for the division title.

Rumors of right fielder and slugger Nicholas Castellanos being dangled on the trade block to help restock Detroit’s farm system had been in and out of the news all winter, with the Atlanta Braves the most serious team interested in a deal for him. If Machado were to come to Detroit, Castellanos would need to be pulled off the proverbial block in order to keep a power bat in the lineup to protect Machado.  

Currently, the team’s starting shortstop is Jordy Mercer, who along with starting pitcher Tyson Ross, were the two bigger signings over the winter for the Tigers. Third base is manned by Jeimer Candelario, who could be sent to the bench in favor of Machado, who would be best suited to move to third and keep Mercer in the starting lineup.

While Machado will most likely sign with the White Sox, any of these three dark horse squads would be smart to at least extend a phone call his way to see if he even has a sliver of interest into meeting with them. Machado would be able to avoid the spotlight in these smaller market teams as well, which could potentially aid in the repairing of his image after the 2018 postseason, which made many people question his drive and will to help his team win.

Machado can man either shortstop or third base for any of the mentioned franchises, making his value to each team that much more instrumental in helping them get back into playoff contention.