Monday's baseball: Yankees, White Sox zero in on Machado

Eric Boland
Associated Press
Infielder Manny Machado is one of two big fish on the free-agent market, and is seeking a contract in excess of $300 million.

New York — Brian Cashman has said since early November the Yankees have an interest in free agent Manny Machado.

This week brings the logical next step of that interest.

Machado, an All-Star infielder and this winter’s headliner free agent along with Bryce Harper, will be in New York on Wednesday to meet with the Yankees, a source confirmed.

With a glut of outfielders in tow, the Yankees at the moment won’t be pursuing Harper.

With Didi Gregorius set to miss at least the first two months of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, there is an interest in Machado, though likely not at the price tag the 26-year-old seeks.

If the Yankees are scared away from Machado, indications are it will be his asking price — various reports have him desiring an eight- to 10-year deal in excess of $300 million — that scares them and not what happened in the postseason.

Machado is starting to meet with teams, and reportedly was in Chicago talking with the White Sox on Monday. He is the brother-in-law of first baseman Yonder Alonso, just acquired by the White Sox. He meets with the Phillies on Thursday.

Machado, while with the Dodgers, had an up-and-down October. He was involved in a handful of on-field incidents that didn’t make him look especially good and compounded that by telling Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that he would never be considered “Johnny Hustle,” and that of hustling in general “that’s not my cup of tea.”

This winter Cashman, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and Aaron Boone have been asked about those comments and none of them said those remarks were disqualifying. Steinbrenner did say he wanted to hear much more from Machado in the way of explanation.

“If it’s a $300-million guy, or a $10-million guy, clearly those comments are troubling,” Steinbrenner said last month at the owners’ meetings in Atlanta. “But that’s really (Cashman’s) job — if we’re interested in any player — to sit down with them face to face, and the agent, and ask them, ‘Where did this come from? What was the context around the entire interview? Was there a point you were trying to make? How do you justify it?’ Because that ain’t going to sell where we play baseball. And that conversation will happen no matter who it is.”

Speaking on the “Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio Dec. 5, Boone said, “There is an expectation that we have” of players and effort, but that can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Meanwhile, Monday, left-hander J.A. Happ and the Yankees finalized a $34 million, two-year contract.

Happ gets $17 million in each of the next two seasons, and his deal includes a $17-million option for 202. He is projected to be part of a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and James Paxton.

In more Yankees news, they gave Sabathia a $500,000 bonus, even though the 38-year-old lefty was ejected from his final regular-season start six outs shy of the 155 innings specified in his contract for the payment.

Around the horn

The Astros and free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley agreed to a contract, per Yahoo! Sports. ESPN reported the deal would be in the two-year, $32-million contract.

... The Rangers are bringing back reliever Matt Bush with a minor-league contract as the right-hander recovers from elbow surgery. Texas also agreed to minor-league deals with pitchers Zac Curtis and Tim Dillard and infielder Chase d’Arnaud. They will report to major-league spring training.

... The Mets signed former Tigers outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor-league contract.

... The Dodgers agreed to a contract extension with play-by-play announcer Charley Steiner, through the 2021 season.

Associated Press contributed.