New York Yankees: Should they pursue Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in 2018

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman (L) and Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman (L) and Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

Should the New York Yankees go after either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in free agency after the season?

Rarely in major league baseball does free agency feature a cornerstone franchise player. A hall of fame caliber, a game-changing player that turns potential playoff teams into championship contenders overnight is a rarity, especially with teams willing to spend in recent years compared to free agency classes of the past dominated by big market teams, primarily the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In 2018 there will be two players that fit the mold, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado.

Both superstars will be in their mid-twenties when they become free agents at the conclusion of the 2018 season looking for a hefty pay raise which will result in the two receiving historic contracts. Thankfully in the case of Machado, the Yankees will have one less suitor to worry about in the Red Sox since the superstar expressed his lack of respect for the organization.  After an altercation earlier in the season between Machado and Chris Sale, the superstar expressed his dislike of the team trying to purposely retaliate and potentially harm him for sliding into Dustin Pedroia, injuring the second baseman.

Internally the Yankees have a problem that twenty-nine other teams would love to have, a loaded farm system that ranks top five in the majors and has a wide range of potential major league all-stars at multiple positions.  The only problem that the Yankees front office has to think about is whether they’re willing to trust the scouting report on their prospects and wait for their development or swing for the fences and potentially land one of the two biggest free agents in the last two decades.

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In the outfield, the Yankees are already set in left and right field with Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier.  With center field being in question and potentially available due to Jacoby Ellsbury’s rocky three years in the Bronx, the Yankees could look to Harper to fill the void or stick with highly touted prospect Estevan Florial, who at just 19 years old already has a tremendous upside and fits the description of what a Yankee is both on and off the field.

With Machado, the decision may be hard because of the arrival of top prospect Gleyber Torres in 2018. On the other hand it may be a little easier at the same time because the Yankees could make one of their all-star infielders in Didi Gregorius or Starlin Castro a potential trade piece to add a significant starting pitcher to a rotation that is inconsistent after Luis Severino and Sonny Gray. With the looks of it, the Yankees would most likely part with Castro considering Gregorius has had a breakout season, has a very solid glove at short and provides a lefty power bat that is much-needed in that Yankees lineup. Castro being traded to upgrade the starting rotation the Yankees could move Torres to second base and allow them to sign Manny Machado to play third base.

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Bryce Harper has career averages of 32 home runs, 89 runs batted in, .286 batting average and 96 walks while Manny Machado averages 30 home runs, 86 runs batted in, .280 batting average and 48 walks. These are incredible numbers that can not be ignored, especially when you factor in playing at a hitters ballpark like Yankee stadium and surrounding one of the two in a lineup that provides protection with the young all-stars the Yankees have in Gary Sanchez, Judge, and Gregorius.

These are all possibilities to consider when the heralded free agency class 2018 presents itself. One thing for sure is wherever either of the two land they will provide a significant upgrade. The Yankees will have their name in the mix, that’s for sure.