Saturday, January 26, 2019

The George M. Steinbrenner Clause

Image result for Manny Machado
As we approach the last week of January, we unfortunately are still stuck with the most intriguing, yet tired story line of the baseball offseason…

…where will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign?

It is intriguing because Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are two of the top five talents in the game, both are under the age of 27, both can be the new face of any franchise that they sign on the dotted line for. 

However it has now become the most exhausted discussion because teams are so hesitant to commit big money over for a long period of time. Clubs have been burned by this approach so many times, that it seems to be the rule, that no club should ever sign a player (for longer than 8 years), no matter how young and talented they are. But that leaves plenty of questions: 

Shouldn’t Harper and/or Machado be the exception to the rule? 

Harper and Machado should be the exception to the rule. They don’t have to be signed to a 10-year deal, but an eight year deal, with a player option after the 3rd or 4th season should not be unreasonable. Harper and Machado are entering the prime years, and their presence alone will generate enough interest in nearly any club, that ticket sales, merchandise sales, and the overall value of the club should easily pay for their salaries. I mean, isn’t this why people buy baseball clubs? To make money? Harper and Machado are attractions, and if marketed correctly, should be great investments for at least the first three seasons. In all likelihood Harper and Machado would opt out after three seasons to can gain another 30+ million year contract. And Harper and Machado on the market again would be another intriguing story line. Which is good for baseball. 

Isn’t this bad for baseball? 

What is not good, is how both of these stars remained unsigned. If this was the NBA or NFL, they would have reached agreements with their clubs before Thanksgiving, because both, the NBA and NFL’s off seasons, have become the more interesting/active off seasons. This was an honor baseball used to have, and an honor baseball needs. There is no getting around the fact that the ‘dog days of summer’ is a time of year when fans start to focus more on football. August and September are not exactly exciting months during the baseball season, but in past years baseball could at least generate interest in October with the World Series, and November and December with an active offseason. This is something the sport needs to win back. 

Should baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, intervene to speed this process along? 

Unfortunately Manfred cannot intervene for so many reasons. It sets a bad precedent, the owners would never allow it, and while it would be a progressive maneuver, baseball is anything but progressive. But before soon, Manfred will be enthralled in a labor dispute if the owners don’t start ponying up the dough. If Manfred could hypothetically do something, fun and exciting to solve this problem what if he encouraged the following: 

The George M. Steinbrenner Clause:  If you finish in last place in your respective division 2 out of 3 seasons, your franchise enters the George M. Steinbrenner List. The former Yankees owner would never tolerate losing, even when the Yankees lost, and would make any move possible to improve his clause. He wasn’t always the smartest, but he was always trying. And if you make the list, you must increase your payroll by 30% that offseason. 

Is it perfect? Absolutely not

Is it awful? Yeah its probably littered with a whole bunch of problems.

But it’s interesting, and right now baseball needs to be interesting as much as it needs its owners who sit on their millions upon millions of dollars to take their losing franchises into relevant ones. 

So what if Harper and Machado joined forces, to prove their value and signed on with a last place team, and turned them into winners, wouldn’t that drive up their value? In 2018, the Orioles, Royals, Rangers, Marlins, Reds and Padres finished last place in their respective divisions and there is no denying that Harper and Machado would instantly improve each one of those clubs. But what would be the best destination for these two talents:

6. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are going to be bad for quite some time. The farm system is terrible, there is no pitching in sight, and their major league club will look like a contending team, in the Carolina league. As good as Harper and Machado are, the Orioles would still lose close to 85-95+ games with these two. They were already one of the worst teams when they had Machado. 

  1. Jonathon Villar-2B
  2. Manny Machado-SS
  3. Bryce Harper-RF
  4. Mark Trumbo-DH
  5. Trey Mancini-LF
  6. Chris Davis-1B
  7. Renato Nunez-3B
  8. Cedric Mullins-CF
  9. Austin Wynns-C

5. Texas Rangers

The Rangers still have some young sluggers, Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, that would be instantly be helped by the additions of Harper and Macahdo, but like Orioles the Rangers are in a middle of a rebuild as well. The Rangers would be better, but not significant. Although the lineup would be reminiscent of those great, steroid infused lineups of the 1990s. 

  1. Delino DeShields-CF
  2. Bryce Harper-RF
  3. Manny Machado-3B
  4. Nomar Mazara-LF
  5. Elvis Andrus-SS
  6. Joey Gallo-1B
  7. Rougned Odor-2B
  8. Shin-Soo Choo-DH
  9. Jeff Mathis-C 

4. Miami Marlins

While the situation in Miami is as dire as it is in Baltimore and Texas, Miami is still a somewhat more attractive destination. Jeter and Co. have nearly completed a complete teardown of the club with rumors surfacing that they are finally getting closer to trading J.T. Realmuto, and with that trade Miami should have a nice stockpile of young talent coming through the system. Harper and Machado are young enough, so when their prospects are ready to contribute in the major leagues, Harper and Machado will still be in their prime. 

Also, while baseball continues to flop in Tampa Bay, despite having one of the better teams in the league, baseball needs Miami to be a relevant baseball city. The new park is entering its third year, but without anyone on the team to bring fans to the park, it will become just another wasted effort to make baseball in Florida work. Machado is from Miami, Bryce Harper’s hair would benefit from the Florida sunshine, and maybe Jeter could convince his buddy (and another Miami favorite) Alex Rodriguez to come and coach. Pull out all the stops, have Alex Rodriguez be the hitting instructor and Jennifer Lopez can be the first base coach. She would cause every opposing first baseman in the league to make a minimum of three errors a game for not paying attention. 

  1. Lewis Brinson-CF
  2. Bryce Harper-RF
  3. Manny Machado-SS
  4. Starlin Castro-C
  5. Brian Anderson-3B
  6. Austin Dean-LF
  7. Peter O’Brien-1B
  8. Chris Wallach-C

*This includes a likely JT Realmuto move 

3. Kansas City Royals

The Royals are laying in the weeds. Talent is on the way and they have put together a super athletic, and speedy offense that could cause havoc for the opposition. They brought in Billy Hamilton, a notorious base stealer to play along with Adalberto Mondesi (32 stolen bases in 18’), and Whit Merrifield (45 steals in 18’). The Royals are going to attempt an old school, hit the ball on the ground, turn a double into a triple approach to try and win as many games as possible. Which probably will not be much. But if a Harper and Machado tag team were to come onto the club, it would be entertaining to see how pitchers would pitch to the two sluggers with speedsters like Hamilton, Mondesi and Merrifield on the bases. Besides, Kansas City, does not get recognized enough as a good sports town, and when the team wins, the fans show up in droves. It would also give the AL Central (what really should be called AL Cleveland) an interesting layer. 

  1. Adalberto Mondesi-SS
  2. Whit Merrifield-2B
  3. Bryce Harper-RF
  4. Manny Machado 3B
  5. Salvador Perez-C
  6. Jorge Soler-DH
  7. Hunter Dozier-1B
  8. Alex Gordon-LF
  9. Billy Hamilton-CF

2. San Diego Padres

San Diego has a surplus of resources to become instant contenders in baseball. They have one of the best farm systems in baseball, and have been vocal in wanting to spend big money this and next offseason. Just two year removed from signing Eric Hosmer to a 144 million dollar deal, San Diego has been lurking in the weeds, waiting for young stars like Fernando Tatis Jr., Fransisco Mejia, and Luis Urias on the brink of coming into the big leagues, the tandem of Harper and Machado could accelerate their development. With the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, the Padres are San Diego’s only remaining professional team, and having one of the most unique and beautiful parks in the country, it is time San Diego comes back into contention, with some real star power. Harper and Machado would instantly turn the Padres into the most exciting team in baseball. 

  1. Manuel Margot-CF
  2. Bryce Harper-RF
  3. Manny Machado-3B
  4. Eric Hosmer-1B
  5. Wil Myers-LF
  6. Austin Hedges-C
  7. Luis Urias-SS
  8. Ian Kinsler-2B

*When the bring Tatis up, Machado could slide over to shorstop, and Urias could slide to second base. 

1. Cincinnati Reds 

The Reds have had, quietly, a very active offseason. The Reds have been one of the worst teams in baseball, and like the Mets, are one of the few teams in the sport attempting to change that. Like San Diego, Cincinnati has a beautiful park, and like Kansas City have an excellent fan base when the team is good. The Reds also have one off their all-time great in Joey Votto about to enter the twilight of his career, and it would be something special if the Reds could make the postseason one more time before he decides to call it quits. Harper and Machado would absolutely mash in softball park that is the Great American Ballpark, and it would turn the NL Central, already with three World Series caliber teams (Milwaukee, Chicago) and St. Louis into the most competitive division in baseball. The Reds are one of the classic franchises in the sport, that has been irrelevant for too long. Two great additions like Harper and Machado to pair up with Joey Votto, would create a new version of the Big Red Machine. 


  1. Scooter Gennett-2B
  2. Manny Machado-SS
  3. Joey Votto-1B
  4. Bryce Harper-RF
  5. Eugenio Suarez-3B
  6. Scott Schelber-CF
  7. Yasiel Puig-LF
  8. Tucker Barnhart-C

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