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It took a while for this particular domino to fall, but one of the biggest moves of the offseason seems to have finally gone down, as the Padres have reportedly agreed to terms on a $300 million contract with Manny Machado.
This move is an obvious win for the Padres, who get an in-his-prime superstar to add to a promising young core buttressed by one of the best farm systems in baseball. Machado may not make the Padres World Series contenders by himself, but it's not terribly hard to squint and see this team going on a surprise run to the playoffs with him at the lead.
Of course, it's not such an obvious win for Fantasy players. Machado is likely to be a high-level Fantasy performer in any context, but this isn't exactly the best spot he could have landed. In fact, among the rumored contenders for his services (Phillies, Yankees, White Sox as the main contenders), this is probably the worst.
The Padres finished 13th in the National League in runs scored in 2018, and while Petco Park is no longer the pitcher's paradise it once was, it's not exactly a great place to hit. And the Padres' last big free agency deal was a total bust, at least through one year. Eric Hosmer hit .253/.322/398 last season and failed to lift the offense up much.
The most likely outcome sees the Padres continuing to rank among the bottom half of offenses in the league, even with Machado, whereas the Phillies and Yankees could offer great lineups, while the White Sox would have given Machado an excellent park to call home. The Padres can't guarantee that, but this roster does have the potential to be very good on offense as soon as this year.
Hosmer, Machado, and Wil Myers isn't the best middle-of-the-order in the majors, but if Hosmer can bounce back and Myers can stay healthy, it's competitive. What will make or break things for this offense is how the young guys come around.
Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes both showed potential in the second half in 2018, sporting an .833 and .920 OPS after the All-Star break. Luis Urias is an exciting young prospect who has consistently hit .300 in the minors, and showed signs of developing some power last season. With his ability to hit for a high average and draw walks, he could be a great table-setter for this lineup.
But the hinge point might be the eventual callup of Fernando Tatis. A unanimous top-five prospect in baseball -- No. 3 for Fantasy, per Scott White https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/baseball/news/2019-fantasy-baseball-draft-prep-top-100-prospects/ – and potential Fantasy superstar. In 2019, Tatis played 88 games, hitting .286, with 16 homers and 16 steals -- that's a 27-27 150-game pace. For a 19-year-old who was one of the youngest players in his league. Yeah, he's exciting.
Ian Kinsler is basically the only thing standing between a Machado-Tatis-Urias-Hosmer infield, and that's where things get really interesting. We probably won't see that on Opening Day, but Tatis is surely just about ready for the majors, so one injury could make it happen.
Machado remains a stud. You may move him down one spot in your shortstop rankings -- Heath Cummings did -- as a result of this move, but you'll still be happy to take him in the second round. This doesn't change that. And, if things go as planned for the Padres, it could be a big win.