Analysis

Manny Machado Could Be the Yankees Way Out of A-Rod’s No. 13 Drama

After a career full of many highs and certainly many lows, the fate of Alex Rodriguez’s No. 13 is one that can be discussed for hours upon hours. Will the Yankees retire it? Will they put it back into circulation and issue it out again? Tough to say. 

Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players that a baseball diamond has ever seen and there’s no disputing that statement. 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI and 3,115 hits are career totals that rank among the likes of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

Unfortunately, the story of his career isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as he is arguably the poster child of “The Steroid Era”, receiving the largest suspension in history for PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs).

It’s no secret that since his 162-game suspension in 2014, A-Rod has done just about as much as one in his situation could do to replenish his image. He owned up to his mistakes, returned in 2015 with a renaissance season (33 HR, 129 wRC+), and since his retirement in 2016, has been all over the game of baseball on Fox Sports and ESPN.

However, his rebirth into the game hasn’t been a big enough band-aid to cover up his history with PEDs and the obvious shame he brought to the Yankees and the MLB as a whole. Despite his popularity as a broadcaster and as the boyfriend of Jennifer Lopez, the 3-time AL MVP’s career is still arguably as tarnished as ever.

It’s tough to imagine a scenario where the Yankees hold an “Alex Rodriguez Day” at Yankee Stadium to cement his No. 13 into Monument Park where the likes of many Yankee greats who did it the right way have been honored. But, on the other hand, the likelihood that they just issue it out to some random joe doesn’t sound too high either.

Enter Manny Machado.

Following the conclusion of the World Series, Manny Machado is set to become a free agent at just 26-years-old into a market where he is expected to receive an AAV north of $30M per year. Bob Nightengale of USA Today has reported that the Yankees are already considered the front-runners to sign the Miami native.

Machado posted the best season of his seven-year career in 2018 between the Orioles and Dodgers, slashing an impressive .297/.367/.538 with a 140 wRC+ and 37 home runs.

With Didi Gregorius out until at least July, it’s the common narrative that the Yankees will sign Machado and slot him into the lineup as their shortstop to start the season. The addition of a 40 homer/100 RBI guy with a salivating arm sounds like just about as much as a team could want in a free-agent signing. But there is one more additional perk that hasn’t been mentioned.

There’s a fair chance Manny Machado is gifted Rodriguez’s No. 13

If you didn’t know, A-Rod and Machado have established a mentor/student relationship ever since Manny was a teenager. Which is particularly why he chose to sport No. 13 throughout his tenure as an Oriole, as a nod to the man he looked up to.

“Growing up in Miami, it was all about A-Rod. Alex was a Miami guy, so us Miami people stick with our Miami people. Alex was just one of those guys I always looked up to.” Machado on looking up to Alex (ABC News).

The high praise goes both ways between the two. A-Rod has given nothing but compliments to the soon to be free agent.

“Whoever signs him will win big. Real big.”

The bond between the two is clearly there. Maybe even to the point where A-Rod gives the OK (if he has any say in the matter) to Manny wearing his No. 13 in pinstripes.  In that case, the Yankees could plausibly use that as a way to not honor A-Rod’s number without there being any awkward tension.

Obviously, this isn’t an issue that is anywhere in the minds of the Yankees’ front office right now, but it’s hard to ignore that is is a  slight loophole out of some potential controversy.

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