For three months Manny Machado has been a free agent. The 26-year old infielder is one of the most talked-about players to appear on the open market in recent years. Yet, here we are on February 1st and he still hasn’t been signed.
Why no love for Manny Machado?
There are several reasons, but the most important is his personality. Teams are reluctant to bring Machado into their clubhouse because of the negative force of his character.
The love child ARod and Manny Ramirez never had
We’ve seen players like Machado before. There’s a little Reggie Jackson in him, there’s a little bravado, nonchalance, there’s some Robby Cano in him for sure. Machado is sort of like the love child that Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez never had. He has a lot of talent, but he also has ARod’s stomach-churning arrogance and lack of regard for the code that most player’s live by on the diamond. He also has Ramirez’s proclivity for making stupid decisions.
The ARod ball slap in the playoffs against the Red Sox? You could see Machado doing that.
A “Manny being Manny” bat flip that ends up being a long single? Yeah, Machado could do that.
How about inciting the other team by acting like a douche bag on the diamond? Well, Machado’s done that, in full ARod fashion. Machado once “accidentally” let the bat fly out of his hand after a pitcher threw inside on him. Machado spiked the Milwaukee first baseman on a routine play at first base last October in the playoffs. Machado has frequently went out of his way to try to tackle infielders on slides at second base. On one play he reached his arm across the shortstop’s leg to try to impede him. Those are signature ARod moves. The new Manny has also paid homage to the original Manny (and Cano) by casually jogging to first base, even on ground balls that he might have made a close play of at first.
“I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen,” Machado said last fall in The Athletic. “That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
Well, now it all makes sense. Manny can’t be troubled to run hard on a baseball field. Most professional athletes consider their athleticism to be part of their jobs, but to Manny playing hard isn’t in his DNA. Nice to know.
That comment and the questionable actions he’s taken on the field in the past are signals to fans that Manny is a selfish superstar. That’s bad enough, but you know who pays attention to those things even more closely? Baseball owners.
Why should a Major League Baseball team give Manny Machado a quarter of a billion dollars to play a game that he doesn’t even take seriously? And there are other reasons to not sign this guy too. Let me count them:
5 reasons you don’t want Manny Machado
1. Machado has made it clear he wants to play shortstop. Last season he was (according to dWAR) the worst defensive shortstop in baseball. His position is third base, but if he’s going to insist on shortstop that’s a decision that will impact the pitching staff of any team that signs him.
2. Machado doesn’t play hard. He plays safe and for himself. He’s Manny Ramirez 2.0, gifted but self-centered and lazy.
3. Over his years with the O’s and his short stint with the Dodgers, Machado has alienated teammates with his immature and selfish behavior. For a few hundred million you don’t want a disruptive force in your clubhouse.
4. Analytics has evolved to the point where teams are not comfortable giving one player that much guaranteed money. As front office’s invest more in advanced statistical analysis, they realize that a single player doesn’t change the fortune of a baseball team enough to warrant hundreds of millions of dollars. Especially one with character issues.
5. Manny is overrated. So far through seven seasons, Machado has led the league in three categories: games played, at-bats, and doubles. In the last four seasons he’s topped 30 home runs, but he hasn’t driven in a lot of runs for a middle of the order player, averaging 96 for that stretch.
Machado’s OPS for his six full seasons is 826. Over that stretch he ranks 33rd in OPS in baseball. That’s right, 32 other hitters rank ahead of Manny in On Base + Slugging. Anthony Rendon rates ahead of him, and so does Christian Yelich and Khris Davis. Yasiel Puig rates higher.
Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez ranks 100 points higher than Machado in OPS for the last six seasons. Does Manny 2.0 rate a contract like Martinez received when he’s clearly not in the same class as an offensive player?
Why are we surprised that Manny Machado hasn’t received a $250 million offer? He’s told us exactly who he is, he’s used his own words to tell us that he doesn’t play hard, it’s not his “cup of tea.”
Dan Holmes is an author and baseball historian. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Major League Baseball. He once defeated George Brett in Texas Hold Em poker and faced Phil Niekro's knuckleball. He has two daughters and he writes regularly about baseball and many other topics.