Red Sox Rumors: Manny Machado wants to remain at shortstop

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 01: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles catches a ball hit by Ian Kinsler #3 (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Angels to end the game in the ninth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 1, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 01: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles catches a ball hit by Ian Kinsler #3 (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Angels to end the game in the ninth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 1, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Manny Machado’s insistence on remaining at the shortstop position makes him less appealing for the Boston Red Sox and the rival New York Yankees.

Pulling off a blockbuster deal for Manny Machado was always a pipedream for the Boston Red Sox. We can safely cross the superstar infielder off the trade deadline shopping list based on his recent comments.

The Baltimore Orioles appear motivated to move Machado before they lose him for nothing to free agency this winter. That makes the four-time All-Star the hottest commodity on the market as the MLB trade deadline approaches. Numerous teams have been linked to Machado in the rumor mill, including the Red Sox. Unfortunately, not all those teams have an opening at the shortstop position – including the Red Sox.

Machado came up through the minors as a shortstop but transitioned to third base when he reached the big leagues. He played sparingly at his preferred position until this season when the O’s moved him to shortstop at his request. The option of shifting him back to the hot corner would expand the list of interested suitors but Machado doesn’t seem open to that idea.

According to The Athletic’s Marc Carig, when Machado was asked if he’d be willing to move back to third to accommodate a trade, his response was, “I’m a shortstop. I play shortstop.”

That sounds like a fairly definitive answer. Machado’s contract doesn’t include a no-trade clause. His personal desires won’t prohibit a team from trading for him with the intent of using him at third. He’ll be forced to play where his next manager tells him to play. It’s clear he wouldn’t be thrilled about a position change though.

Paying a heavy ransom for a three-month rental carries enough risk. There has to be some level of confidence that they can convince Machado to stick around long term. What team wants to take that chance knowing a forced position change would reduce their chances of re-signing him after this season?

The baffling part about Machado’s insistence on playing shortstop is that he’s not very good at playing shortstop. Machado was a two-time Gold Glove winner at third. His transition back to shortstop has been anything but smooth. He ranks dead last in the majors at the position with -20 defensive runs saved. His eight errors are ninth most and his .978 fielding percentage puts him in the bottom 10 among shortstops with 75+ games at the position.

Would Machado be a fit for the Red Sox?

The Red Sox could have shored up their infield defense with Machado playing third in place of Rafael Devers, who leads all third basemen with 19 errors. Devers could move to DH and perhaps see occasional time at first base. J.D. Martinez would have to play the outfield more often at the expense of Jackie Bradley. The dropoff in outfield defense would easily be offset by the improved infield defense and the addition of Machado’s bat to the lineup.

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That plan goes out the window if Machado isn’t willing to move back to third. Boston already has Xander Bogaerts locked in at shortstop. He’s no defensive wizard by any means but he’s not the liability Machado has been. The Red Sox won’t move Bogaerts to third either. They’ve tried that before with disastrous results. Besides, a left side of the infield with Bogaerts at third and Machado at short would be horrific.

Boston’s barren farm system makes a trade for Machado inconceivable. Any enticing package they could deliver would cost a key piece of the major league roster, which would be counterproductive. The rumor of Devers being shipped to Baltimore has been floating around but the Red Sox aren’t foolish enough to entertain that option. The upside of Devers is too great to give up on for a short-term rental. Even one as great as Machado.

Machado’s comments matter even if he isn’t coming to Boston

Which position Machado will or won’t play probably doesn’t have a direct impact on the Red Sox. They weren’t going to be able to acquire him anyway. However, Machado’s comments remain relevant to Red Sox Nation because of what it could mean for their biggest rival.

The New York Yankees have emerged as a suitor for Machado, reports Fancred’s Jon Heyman. Yet we have to wonder if the Bronx Bombers would be hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal if Machado is going to put up a fuss about switching positions.

The Yankees already have Didi Gregorius at shortstop. He brings an above-average glove to the position and is far better suited than Machado to stick at short. Gregorius has very little experience at any other positions and has been one of their better bats over the last two years. He’s not going anywhere.

Perhaps Machado will change his tune if given the opportunity to join a contender. His comments may have simply been his way of brushing off questions about the overwhelming trade rumors. Then again, he did ask the O’s to move him back to shortstop for a reason. It’s clearly his preference. Making that clear could be his way of gaining leverage over where he lands.

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As disappointed as fans will be if the Red Sox aren’t in the mix for Machado, we can take some relief in his resistance to switch positions providing a potential roadblock for the Yankees. The only thing worse than having no chance to land an available superstar is seeing that player end up in pinstripes.