Manny Machado signs with Padres: Winners and losers of the MLB offseason's biggest move to date
The big winner? Machado, of course
At long last, Manny Machado has a new home. A new home with a new team in a new city. Tuesday afternoon, . Yes, the Padres. The deal guarantees him $300 million and includes an opt-out clause following the fifth year.
- Giancarlo Stanton: 13 years and $325 million
- Manny Machado: 10 years and $300 million
- Alex Rodriguez: 10 years and $275 million
- Alex Rodriguez: 10 years and $252 million
- Miguel Cabrera: 8 years and $248 million
It should be noted Stanton's deal was a contract extension signed during his arbitration years. Machado's deal stands as the largest free agent contract not only in baseball history, but North American sports history. That's at least until the still unsigned Bryce Harper picks his new team.
It'll take the better part of a decade to truly know who won and who lost the Machado signing. That won't stop us from naming winners and losers right now, of course. The information we have now is valuable. Here are the winners and losers from the Machado signing based on what we know right now.
Manny Machado: Might as well start here, right? This is obvious enough. Machado did not receive the largest contract in baseball history, no, but he secured a monster deal that gives him and his family generational wealth. He gets the money, he gets to play in a great city with a beautiful ballpark, and he gets to be the centerpiece of an up-and-coming young team. And, if that's not enough, he can opt out in five years and look for even more money, should he deem it possible on the open market. The guy signing a $300 million contract should be considered a winner, always and forever.
The Padres: The Eric Hosmer contract last year (eight years and $144 million) never seemed like a good idea and Hosmer's first year in San Diego (99 OPS+ and 1.4 WAR) did not go well. That contract was ill-advised. The Machado deal though? This is how you spend big in free agency. Go after the prime-aged (26) players with established track records as superstar producers (23.2 WAR from 2015-18) at hard-to-fill positions (shortstop and third base).
For all the talk about 10-year contracts being bad investments, it is often conveniently ignored the worst of those contracts went to players on the wrong side of 30. A-Rod's first 10-year deal was an overwhelming success. So was Derek Jeter's. When Machado's new 10-year contract expires, he will be younger than Robinson Cano is today. Imagine if Cano had signed a 10-year deal when he was Machado's age? It would've been a smashing success. Every contract comes with risk. Not every contract comes with this sort of upside. The Padres bought Machado's prime years in bulk.
Bryce Harper: Harper waiting until after Machado signed always seemed likely. It is agent Scott Boras' M.O. to wait out the market, and, in Harper's case, Machado has set the market and there are now no other elite free agents to compete with. All the teams that lost out on Machado have no choice but to turn to Harper if they want to secure a star-caliber talent in his mid-20s. Free agents like Harper and Machado don't come along often. With Machado off the board, Harper and Boras can begin fielding offers in earnest, and those offers will come from desperate teams that lost out on Machado.
Nolan Arenado: Tuesday was a great day for Arenado. The Rockies star third baseman is scheduled to become a free agent following this season, and while I don't think he'll get Machado money (Arenado will be two years older than Machado is now when he becomes a free agent), the Machado deal does help establish the market. Want to sign a star caliber infielder? It'll cost you upwards of $30 million per year across 10 years. The Rockies have a history of keeping their own (Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, etc.) and they are pursuing an extension with Arenado. Arenado's camp can now point to Machado's deal and say negotiations start there. Prior to the Machado contract, it was a bit unclear what a player like Arenado could expect in free agency. Now we know.
Eric Hosmer: Like I said, year one of Hosmer's eight-year contract did not go well. He struggled seemingly all year and the spotlight was on him. That comes with the territory when you sign a huge contract. Now though, Hosmer is in clear. If the Padres return to contention soon and win some hardware, he'll get credit for being part of the turnaround. And, if the Padres fall short of expectations, Machado will shoulder most of the blame as the high-priced import. That's just the way it is. The highest-paid player always gets the blame. Hosmer will still get credit should the team contend in the near future. If they don't, well, it's Machado's problem now.
Major League Baseball: Spring training opened last week and much of the talk since then has focused on players who were not in camp (i.e. Machado and Harper) than players who are in camp. It's not just Machado and Harper either. Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unsigned as well. Ditto Marwin Gonzalez. How is Gonzalez still unsigned? The guy is 29, he switch-hits, and he plays everywhere. Every team could fit him on its roster. Instead, he is still a free agent. Crazy.
Players around the league and the MLBPA itself have been MLB a reprieve, at least temporarily. It is silly at best and disingenuous at worst to say the Machado deal shows free agency is fine. Machado is a special case. He's a 26-year-old superstar. Productive players like Derek Dietrich and Curtis Granderson have had to sign minor league contracts in recent days. Mike Moustakas is a rock solid and widely respected player who turned only 30 in September, and he can't land a multi-year contract., and whispers of possible collusion are growing louder. The Machado deal gives
The Machado contract is not evidence free agency is fine. He is a massive outlier. His signing at least gives MLB a break from fans and reporters wondering why so many top players remain unsigned and why so many teams are not doing more to be competitive. Machado should not have had to wait until Feb. 19 to sign a contract. For MLB, the timing couldn't have been better.
The Phillies: Yeah, this was a tough day for the Fightin' Phils. The Phillies have been planning for this offseason for years now, and, to their credit, they've made some nice moves this winter. They signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and traded for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto. And yet, if they walk away from this offseason without Machado or Harper, it'll be a massive failure. Machado is no longer an option. That means Philadelphia is at the mercy of Harper and Boras and that is not a good place to be. Missing out on Harper would enrage a fan base that seems a bit more disgruntled than the team would like.
The White Sox: They are in the same boat as the Phillies but are not taking on as much water. The ChiSox have pursued both Machado and Harper all winter, though they never did they seem to be the frontrunner for either. Rather, they seemed to linger and hope one of them fell into their laps. They refused to go to $300 million guaranteed for Machado.
If the White Sox miss out on Harper in addition to Machado, yeah, it'll be disappointing, but it always felt like the most likely outcome. They'll continue to plow ahead with their rebuild if nothing comes together. That won't stop the fan base from being (understandably) upset, however. The White Sox kind of set fans up for disappointment this offseason.
The rest of the NL West: The Padres lost 96 games last year and they haven't had a winning record since 2010. Machado is joining a last place team. That said, San Diego has the game's best farm system. It is rich with high-end talent on the cusp of the big leagues, as well as deep in quality prospects who project to have MLB value. Here is where the team ranks in the various farm system rankings released in recent weeks:
"The Padres are going to start winning more games in 2019 and especially 2020, so there will soon come a point where all this prospect depth could fuel major league trades rather than boosting their farm system rankings," says the ESPN write-up.
The Padres already looked like an up-and-coming contender thanks to their farm system. Will they win a lot in 2019? No, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies. The Padres won't be a pushover much longer., but a dangerous young roster is not far away. Now the Padres have added Machado, a young man himself, to the mix. Having a great farm system is a wonderful thing. Having a great farm system and one of the best players in baseball in the prime of his career is even better. Watch out
Mike Axisa: Yes, me,. Thanks for making me look smart, Manny.
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