As soon as the World Series wraps up, the Manny Machado rumor mill is going to kick into overdrive.
Machado already has been in the spotlight during the postseason, but not for his obvious skills as a baseball player.
In Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, Machado, as he crossed first base, intentionally kicked the Brewers’ Jesus Aguilar. That cost the Dodgers’ infielder a $10,000 fine and unending abuse from Milwaukee fans for the rest of the series.
Throughout his seven-year career, mostly spent with the Baltimore Orioles, Machado has been no stranger to controversy.
That could be a factor when he hits the free-agent market after the World Series, and some think it could be an issue for the White Sox.
Approaching the two-year mark on their rebuild, the Sox are loaded with outfield and catching prospects, and they are in decent shape on the pitching front despite losing potential ace Michael Kopech (Tommy John surgery) for the 2019 season.
Third base remains a big question mark, and that’s why Machado’s name has been linked to the Sox.
In that sense, the Sox pursuing Machado does make sense this winter.
They likely would be OK with some of Machado’s antics, even if National League MVP in waiting Christian Yelich called him a “dirty player,” among other things, last week.
Here is the bigger problem with the Sox courting Machado: money.
The Sox have plenty to spend, but not the expected $300 million Machado is expected to be seeking over the course of a 10-year deal.
The more likely option looks like this: the Sox move second baseman Yoan Moncada to third next season and beyond.
“It’s conceivable,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in late September.
Hahn indicated the potential position switch is going to be discussed this offseason, and the guess here is that talk leads to action.
When he was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in June, Nick Madrigal was projected to be a shortstop with the White Sox, even though he played second base with Oregon State.
In 39 games playing defense with the Arizona League Sox, low Class A Kannapolis and high A Winston-Salem, Madrigal played second base 38 times and shortstop one time.
Madrigal is ticketed to spend most or all of 2019 in the minor leagues, but second base looks to be his spot when he does join the White Sox.
That gives Moncada the entire ‘19 season to get comfortable at third base, the same position he briefly played with the Boston Red Sox in 2016.
This season Moncada ranked last among qualified AL second basemen with 20 errors and a .965 fielding percentage.
“I do think he has made a great deal of progress at second base,” Hahn said. “I also think he has the athleticism to be an above-average defender at other positions. It’s a subject for further conversation.”