The White Sox can offer something no other team in the Manny Machado derby can: the opportunity to play alongside brother-in-law Yonder Alonso and good buddy/winter workout buddy Jon Jay, a chance to unite the "Miami Baseball Brotherhood" on the South Side.
But the Philadelphia Phillies, the White Sox chief and perhaps only remaining competitor in this sweepstakes, have made their own interesting move to try and add an aspect of comfort and familiarity to their pitch.
According to a couple reports, the Phillies added former Baltimore Orioles coach Bobby Dickerson to their coaching staff. Dickerson has been described as Machado's mentor and had a close relationship with him during the 26-year-old free-agent superstar's time in Baltimore.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 11, 2019
The Phillies' front office is already stacked with former Orioles brass, but Dickerson provides a whole different level of familiarity.
This story from The Athletic's Dan Connolly, written amid the firestorm created by Machado's antics during the NLCS back in October, is packed with details of the relationship between Machado and Dickerson, including that Dickerson was the one sent to Machado's Double-A team to teach him how to play third base when he was 19. Machado won a pair of Gold Gloves at the hot corner as a big leaguer, even though he now claims a preference for shortstop, what he was playing when Dickerson coached him up in the minors.
Connolly wrote that the two cried together when Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer and that they still text on a weekly basis. And Dickerson had a unique insight on all those negative headlines Machado has grabbed during his career, whether for throwing equipment in the middle of games, executing spikes-up slides or dragging his foot across Jesus Aguilar's leg during the NLCS.
"I've always tried to challenge him with what does he want his legacy to be. That's how I tried to talk to him," Dickerson told Connolly. "Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't work. But, ultimately, I just tried to challenge him," Dickerson said. "I definitely didn't try to boss him. I tried to challenge him and say, ‘Hey, how do you want this to look when your career is over? What do you want it to be like?'
"I don't think he is intentionally doing things like that. I think sometimes, maybe, he screws up. I don't think anything he does is malicious. I know him personally. He's been really good to me and good to my family and my son. He's a good guy. He's got a good heart. He's all these things if you know him personally. A lot of people will never get to know who the guy is, who the man is. They just know who Swaggy Machado is."
Nothing, though, should do a better job convincing outside observers that the Phillies' hiring of Dickerson could be a big deal then Connolly's opening line to that story: "Besides select family members and a few close friends, there might be no one who knows Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Manny Machado better than Bobby Dickerson."
Of course, the White Sox have a family member and a close friend on their roster in Alonso and Jay.
The New York Yankees, perhaps "out" on Machado depending on which report you read at any given moment during this always-changing saga, made a move that did a similar job of raising eyebrows earlier this offseason, adding Carlos Beltran to their front office right before their meeting with Machado. During his playing days, Beltran was represented by Machado's current agent. But Beltran was a Yankee, too, and received rave reviews for the part he played in the Houston Astros' recent championship run.
And you can make a case that the familiarity those in the Phillies' front office have with Dickerson from their days in Baltimore makes him a valuable addition, regardless of the tie to Machado. If he helped a superstar like Machado so much, he'll be of great value to other young players, right?
So, too, did Rick Hahn argue that the White Sox adding Alonso and Jay were "baseball moves" that make the White Sox better and have nothing to do with "the relationships they have with other players throughout the game."
But at the very least, there is now another argument the Phillies can make for why they're the best destination for Machado. Just like the White Sox are the only team that can offer the opportunity to play alongside family and friends, the Phillies are the only team that can offer the opportunity to continue a significant working relationship with a coach.