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Despite backtracking, Manny Machado still isn’t a fit

This week, free agent infielder Manny Machado sought to reframe his controversial ‘hustle comments’ – but he’s still a poor fit for the Chicago Cubs.

Despite advancing to the World Series as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado, if anything, seems to have hurt his stock as a free agent. Once believed to be a target of the Chicago Cubs, the former Orioles standout is now backpedaling from his postseason comments.

“Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen,” he said in the NLCS. “That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.

Needless to say, those comments, paired with a forgettable .182 average in the Fall Classic and a pair of ethically questionable in-game actions, didn’t sit well with a lot of folks. Teams like the New York Yankees cooled a bit on a guy looking for a record contract after seven strong years in Baltimore.

The same can be said for other clubs, I’m sure – including the Chicago Cubs. That being said, Theo Epstein’s club hasn’t seemed to be a serious suitor for Machado since the season ended. They’ve faced questions over payroll flexibility – as well as the future of Addison Russell, the team’s current middle infielder.

But let’s suppose the payroll questions are a front to keep other teams off-guard and the team would, hypothetically, be in on guys like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Would the latter’s recent clarification of his postseason comments be enough to convince the Cubs of his value?

In an interview with MLB.com, the four-time All-Star sought to put some distance between himself and those heat-of-the-moment comments last month – or, at the very least, paint them in a different light.

“When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn’t come across how I meant it,” Machado said. “For me, I was trying to talk about how I’m not the guy who is eye wash. There’s a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I’ve always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.

I get what he’s saying. I do. But you can’t help but be at least a little put off by the assortment of antics we saw in the postseason. If the comments weren’t enough, you had a guy who spiked not one but two guys in a series and struggled in a big way in the Fall Classic.

Next: Is Theo consolidating his power in filling the coaching staff?

Knowing you may have a new skipper at the helm this time next year, the Cubs would be better served to pass on Machado and going for guys they know will play the game the right way, the ‘Cubs Way’.

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