Here we are. February the 15th, 2019. Football season has ended. Pitchers and catchers have reported. Fans have thrown in the White Sox bullpen for a chance to get the hell out of Chicago for a few days. Manny Machado still has not signed with the White Sox.
After a week of "rumors" and "sources" saying that Manny signing on the South Side is practically imminent, Rawlings releasing Machado's black and white glove designs, and multiple twitter accounts claiming the 13th was the day Manny would sign with the White Sox, one particular report out of a more (debate if you will) trusted source had something else to say about the situation.
Buster Olney of ESPN was on the station's morning show 'Get Up' yesterday when he referenced the White Sox as Manny Machado's and Bryce Harper's safety net team. Here's the sauce:
When you hear the term "safety net" here, it should not leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sure safety nets are great if they protect you from falling or being hit by a foul ball, but this safety net is one that needs to come down fast. To me, this looks like one thing and one thing only: the White Sox are not the preferred destination for either star free agent. But "WHY?" is the question we need to be asking.
Don't get me wrong, it is great that both of these guys are considering playing baseball for Chicago's South Side team, but staying to true White Sox-esque fashion, the Sox are playing second fiddle to everyone else. While Rick and Jerry sit in the friend zone, Manny and Bryce are looking for every possible option not to be seen with the White Sox on prom night.
Hell, even the Padres are wining and dining Manny for a chance to dance with him at this point.
So this leads us back to the "WHY?" Why hasn't bringing along Manny's best friends Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay along in the prom group been enough to entice Manny? Why do the White Sox have an empty locker in the Spring Training clubhouse reserved for Machado? Why did Rick Hahn hint at possible moves and Alonso allude to some surprises during Sox Fest that could be construed as Manny signing with the White Sox? Why hasn't Manny signed on the dotted line?
The answer is Money. If the White Sox had offered the money needed to satisfy what Machado's talent demands, then there wouldn't be an empty locker in the Camelback Ranch clubhouse. Manny jerseys would be flying off the shelves at the few select retailers who carry White Sox merchandise, and the people who care deeply about this team would have restored faith in Rick Hahn and the ownership group that said they would spend money when the time is right. Manny and his agent are looking for the BEST offer. Sure, Manny would love to play for the Yankees, but if you think he's taking a discount to play there... think again. He would have signed in New York already. Same goes for playing with his brother-in-law and best friend. This is about money.
It's great for Manny that at the end of the day he can come back to the safety net SOX and accept their offer for whatever it may be, but who's holding up a safety net for the White Sox? What's the fallback plan for the team should Manny sign elsewhere? Some will say Mike Moustakas is still available, but if this drags on another few weeks, will he be? Don't get me wrong, he would an upgrade over the current third basemen. But is he the type of cornerstone player that a Machado or a Harper could be during this rebuild? Absolutely not, so let's move on.
How do Rick, Kenny, Jerry and Co. solve this? The answer is obvious. Just spend the damn money.
I am all for Rick getting players at the best price. That is in fact his job, but playing the waiting game here is starting to look more and more dangerous with each day that passes. Sure, there is a small part of me that thinks it's possible Hahn gets a "Great Deal" because of market circumstances. However, if you're looking for great deals on free agents this offseason, you might have missed out on some great sales happening over the past few months. Just saying.
I hope the organization realizes exactly what is at stake here, because nothing could be worse for this franchise and its fans than watching Manny take prom photos with the Padres while we debate what to do with the empty locker between Yonder and Jay.