LOS ANGELES – A month unlike any other in Manny Machado's professional career – filled with chaos and clutch play, hubris and heel turns, all of it his doing – ended quietly Sunday night when he swung meekly at a backfoot slider from Chris Sale.
The moment that crowned the Boston Red Sox champions ended Machado's three-month stint as as Los Angeles Dodger, casting him into a winter that will make him very rich – and issue a referendum on his playing career and a playoff run filled with no shortage of unique behavior.
And so after Boston's 5-1, Game 5 victory, Machado was left to ponder this unexpected chapter in his professional career – and the effect it will have on a free agent period that could make him a $300 million man.
Some topics had more clarity than others.
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Such as his time as a Dodger, which began with a trade from Baltimore at the All-Star break: "I can’t be more thankful. What a great organization, what a great group of guys.Getting traded halfway through the year is always tough. The front office, every single teammate in here has been beyond amazing. I was very truly grateful to be a part of this and be a part of what went on."
Would re-signing with them be in the cards? "I can't even talk about that right now."
And what of this October, when Machado hit three big home runs but finished with a 4 for 22 World Series, spiked a pair of players, apparently cemented his legacy as a "dirty player," admitted he'll never be "Johnny Hustle" and commanded the attention of fans and media?
"Everyone’s going to have their own opinions on everything," he said. "The only thing that matters is these 25 guys in here. We play this game for every single player in here. We play for what (the Red Sox) just celebrated.
"I guess it’s good attention. That’s all you guys. Look at all the cameras."
Naturally, Machado has been pondering free agency for quite some time, as extension talks with the Orioles and Dodgers were never really a thing. In the wake of this loss, he went to great lengths to tend to the wounds of defeat.
"Honestly, I can’t even answer that question right now," he said of his pending free agency. "I’m hurt right now."
Machado did acknowledge the ceding of power dynamics in free agency: He can't offer himself a contract, after all.
Of course, a 26-year-old shortstop/third baseman with a career .872 OPS and four seasons of at least 33 home runs will have plenty of suitors – October antics notwithstanding.
"It’s not up to me," he said. "It’s not a decision I can’t make right now. Just remember this moment, this great couple months we had here and see what happens."
Whatever that is, it will surely be interesting. Machado seems bent on ensuring as much.
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