Orioles Hall of Famer and YES Network broadcaster Ken Singleton said on
Glenn Clark Radio
June 1 that he doesn't think the New York Yankees will sign Orioles shortstop Manny Machado in free agency.
Singleton said the Yankees will have greater needs than on the left side of the infield, which includes shortstop Didi Gregorius and third baseman Miguel Andujar. Gregorius, 28, is hitting .248/.320/.478, while Andujar, 23, is hitting .310/.340/.552.
"When you look at teams who need shortstops, the Yankees don't need a shortstop," Singleton said. "They've got Gregorius, who's pretty good, and they've got this kid Andujar, who's only 23 years old, so the need is not there. If I were the Yankees -- and I've been around them -- I think they're going to need starting pitching going forward. Outside of [right-hander Luis Severino], all the others are, I wouldn't say iffy, they're just so-so, so to speak. So I think that their need is a starting pitcher and that's what they might be looking at in the free-agent market."
Machado, who doesn't turn 26 until July, has racked up 30.1 WAR during a seven-year career in Baltimore with a broad base of skills that includes the ability to hit for average (.282 for his career) and power (156 career homers) while playing a Gold Glove third base and solid shortstop.
Machado, with the prime of his career likely still ahead of him, would represent an upgrade from Gregorius or Andujar, and it'll likely require a historic contract for any team to sign Machado this winter, which fits New York's profile. But the Yankees have emphasized youth in recent years, which meant the team's opening day payroll was about $166 million, according to Cot's Contracts. That's the lowest it's been since 2003.
"The Yankees have certainly become more conservative in the way they spend," Singleton said. "They are under the luxury tax. I think they got tired of supporting the other teams. I think they have the seventh highest payroll now. Before, they were always first or second."
New York's opening day payroll ballooned to $225 million in 2016, but since then, the Yankees have gotten some big salaries off the books, like retired designated hitter Alex Rodriguez and retired first baseman Mark Teixeira. New York also underwent a quick retooling at the 2016 trade deadline, trading relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for packages that netted it infielder Gleyber Torres, outfielder Clint Frazier and left-hander Justus Sheffield.
Torres, 21, is hitting .297/.356/.554 as the Yankees' everyday second baseman. Upon being called up from the minor leagues this year, he joined an already formidable group of young, inexpensive talent, like outfielder Aaron Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez, center fielder Aaron Hicks, Andujar and Severino.
The Yankees' roster construction led to the team getting under the $197 million luxury tax threshold for 2018. Singleton said they could add salary at the deadline and stay under.
"That's something that hasn't happened in the past with the Yankees, and I think one reason that has happened is because right now, this is the youngest Yankee team they've had in 50 years," Singleton said. "The other day, they started a lineup [and] no one was over 28 years old and they won the game. They have a lot of good, young, exciting players that haven't really reached the top level of their pay yet. It's going to come eventually, but when it does, the Yankees -- as opposed to a lot of other teams -- they should be able to keep their guys if they want to."
However, staying under the luxury tax could make it easier for New York to sign Machado this winter and cross the luxury tax threshold once again. Because they stayed under the threshold in 2018, future tax bills wouldn't be as onerous. But Singleton reiterated that he doesn't think the Yankees have a pronounced need on the left side of their infield.
"I just look at the need," Singleton said. "Every team's looking for young players that are controllable for years, and they can kind of keep their overall team payroll down with these young players, particularly if they're good."
Singleton also discussed Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who's in the last year of his contract in Baltimore. He's still a productive hitter -- he's hitting .286/.307/.451 with 10 home runs during his age-32 season -- and could be a solid addition as veteran outfield bat on a contending team. Jones is also one of
Singleton's all-time favorites
in orange and black.
"When you think of Adam Jones, you think of the Baltimore Orioles," Singleton said. "I just think that he's been one of the best players they've ever had, one of the best players they currently have. He does have 10-and-5 rights, so he can determine whether he wants to go or not or which team he would like to go to if he gets traded. Also, if he goes for a couple of months, he can decide to come back if the Orioles would want him back. Just because he gets traded, it doesn't mean it's the complete end, particularly if he doesn't sign with the team that he goes to."
For more from Singleton, listen to the full interview here:
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