As the Yankees have seemingly reset their luxury tax penalty, fans hope the organization has one thing in mind -- go big in free agency this offseason. Luckily for the Yankees, two megastars will be on the open market, both of whom are consistently linked to the bright lights of New York -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
While the Yankees will have the money to try to bring in both players, which one do they need more considering the club's immediate and long-term roster configuration?
The case for Harper
One look at Harper's swing and you understand why he's a fit. The Yankees are built on home runs and Harper could be an absolute machine gunning for Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field. Harper's lefty swing would aid the Yankees' lineup balance as New York is leaning heavily right-handed, especially with the injury to Didi Gregorius and the downfall of Greg Bird.
Harper is just 26 years old and he's always been the man in Washington, D.C. and one of the league's most popular stars, meaning the stage in New York should not rattle him. Harper's career arc has gone through some ups and downs across his seven years in the league, but the talent is undeniable. Hitting in the middle of the Yankees lineup with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would give the Yankees a fearsome trio for pitchers to try to navigate around.
The case for Machado
Machado, 26, has seemed destined to land in New York and he almost did this past summer when the Yankees tried to trade for him. Now that all it would take is cash, the Yankees could push hard for the infielder this winter. Note the use of the term "infielder," because it is important.
Machado, who has hit 33 or more home runs in each of the last four seasons, wants to play shortstop. And while according to metrics he is a better defender at third base, the Yankees suddenly have a gaping hole at shortstop with Gregorius set to undergo Tommy John surgery. New York also has a below average defensive third baseman in Miguel Andujar, so Machado's versatility would be a welcomed addition if the Yankees feel Andujar's offensive prowess is not enough to keep him at the hot corner.
Adding either player would obviously improve the Yankees roster in a big way. Before questioning Machado's recent antics in the NLCS, let's keep in mind that both he and Harper are known to be prima donna types, so we'll keep the focus on the production they would be expected to provide on the field and who the Yankees need more. Therefore, considering the club's current roster configuration, Machado is the best fit in the short and long term.
The Yankees outfield in 2019 should consist of Stanton in left field, Aaron Hicks in center field and Judge in right field. After a year of using Stanton as the primary designated hitter, it might be best if he is involved in the game as a fielder. He is not a detriment with the glove and it seems as if he might benefit offensively by participating in continuous game flow as a full-time player, rather than as the DH. Adding Harper would create a log-jam in the outfield -- one that is not easily satisfied by rotating players in and out of the DH role, which could ultimately be uncomfortable for four players.
With Machado aboard, the Yankees could take an approach that will not interfere with the remaining parties. First, with Machado in for a recuperating Gregorius at shortstop, it allows Andujar more time (potentially more than half a season) to develop at third base. If Gregorius comes back healthy, Machado can shift to third base -- pushing Andujar to handle DH duties the rest of the way. Also important is that the Yankees would not have to move Gleyber Torres from second base, ensuring he will gain another year of experience at the keystone.
The Yankees can then assess Machado's value at shortstop in 2019, while also determining whether Andujar is able to improve his defensive abilities. If both results are positive, New York could conceivably part ways with Gregorius. If neither holds true, the Yankees might think to re-sign Gregorius for 2020 and beyond, with Machado moving to his better fielding role at third base while Andujar potentially becomes a full-time DH.
The Yankees would be thrilled to add Machado and Harper and in reality they could get it done. However, adding only Machado requires fewer positional changes and allows for time to figure out the future.