Late in the regular season, the Dodgers were in San Diego for one last regular-season series with the Padres. Los Angeles won two of three games in that series, with the only blemish a 10-inning loss that finally cost Craig Kimbrel his job as closer.
While in San Diego, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw sat down with San Diego reporter Marty Caswell to talk about a variety of Dodgers/Padres topics. One of those topics was Manny Machado, who was Kershaw’s teammate for three months in 2018 before signing a huge free-agent contract with the Padres.
Kershaw’s praise of Machado was glowing.
“I’ve always had a big respect for Manny, when he played with us, and now coming over here playing against him all the time, he’s just a great player. And you can kind of build around him, because you know he’s going to post every day — he’s a lot like Freddie [Freeman] for us, he’s just going to post every day, go out there, play great defense, get big hits. …
“I think he’s just a great player. I think he can roll out of bed and hit .300 and play Gold Glove defense. … I don’t know much about their clubhouse but it does feel like he kind of maybe has a little bit more of a leadership role maybe, and it kind of runs through him a little bit I feel like, it just seems that way from the other side at least.”
Of course, Kershaw isn’t going to talk trash on Machado to a San Diego reporter. But he’s clearly being honest about Manny here, and he’s right. Machado has been pretty consistent throughout his career, with even his “down” years having an OPS+ around 110. According to Baseball-Reference, Machado is at 52.0 WAR through 11 seasons, which puts him one or two good seasons away from the Hall of Fame. He just turned 30 a couple months ago, and he has six seasons left on his 10-year contract with San Diego.
If the Padres are going to make noise in this postseason, they will likely need Machado to step up and be one of the big noisemakers. The Dodgers and Padres have had some interesting encounters over the last few years, and the NLDS could be the next great chapter in that book.
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