Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres shocked the baseball world on Tuesday by coming to terms on a record-breaking deal.
Alas, the Manny Machado sweepstakes has finally come to an end. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Machado inked a 10-year/$300 million contract with the San Diego Padres Tuesday morning.
BREAKING: Free agent star Manny Machado has agreed to a deal with the San Diego Padres, league sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 19, 2019
Although Machado didn’t shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s mega-deal, his $300 million breaks the record for the richest contract handed out to a free agent, surpassing Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year/$275 million deal with the Yankees—though sources say it could have gone differently.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox, considered to be one of Machado’s most aggressive suitors, made an offer with a higher AAV as well as vesting options and incentives that would have pushed the deal well over the $300MM mark.
But patience certainly paid off for Machado and super-agent Dan Lozano anyway. While it initially seemed unrealistic to many for the market to reach the duo’s demands, Machado’s camp was said to be holding out for his goal of a guaranteed $300 million—which would also explain why he eventually passed on the South Side deal’s lower base (8-yrs/$250M).
Waiting until Feb. 19 to sign was clearly a gamble, especially considering both the performance of other late spring additions in the recent past and the current state of the market. Machado’s combination of skill and newfound fortune are not only nearly impossible to argue, but may be making the statement that despite the massive free agent pool that is still lingering, money is still available when major talent at stake.
Despite Machado’s polarizing character and the criticism he’s received for his postseason antics, his contract has made one statement perfectly clear: numerous MLB teams believe that he is absolutely worth an enormous contract—fortunately for both he and the Padres, it’s not a hard case to make.
In 2018, Machado slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 homers, 107 RBI and a 141 WRC+ between the Orioles and Dodgers. Only two other players at either shortstop or third base hit over .290 with 35+ homers and 100+ RBI: Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, both Colorado Rockies with the luxury of playing at Coors Field.
There was significant drama surrounding Machado’s preference to play shortstop in 2018, there’s also no denying he’s been effective at third base since hitting the majors at age 19 in 2012—he’s taken home two Gold Gloves at the hot corner and a Platinum Glove as best overall defender in six full seasons.
While the personal accolade of securing the single-richest contract in American sports is impressive, there’s little keeping Machado from realizing that he just signed a deal with the Padres, a team that owns the second-most undeniably pitcher-friendly park in baseball, and who also won only 66 games last season—it’s safe to say that the weather might have been his only upgrade.
But that’s not to say the team is without hope. San Diego boasts the No. 1 farm system in the league according to MLB Pipeline. Headlined by No. 2 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres have an incredibly exciting future ahead of them, making the addition of 26-year-old Manny Machado nothing short of undeniable promise.
The Padres are equipped with veteran talent as well. Machado’s prolific right-handed bat should fit in nicely between Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers. Hosmer saw a hard decline in his production last season, which may have been due to a lack of protection in the order. With Machado hitting either in front or behind him, we could see the Eric Hosmer of old in 2019.
While it’s intriguing to think about the damage at the top of the lineup, the young MLB-ready prospects that round up the order. 23rd ranked prospect Luis Urias and 26th ranked Francisco Mejia both have a strong chance to win a starting job for the 2019 Padres. Mejia as a backstop or corner outfielder, and Urias as the second basemen.
Even with their commitment to Machado, there is no reason to believe the Padres are finished with their major play in free agency either. According to Spotrac, the Padres are still projected to be nowhere near their $108 million max they hit in 2015. Many of the top free-agents coming into this offseason still remain on the board and are open to multi-year deals that easily overlap with their newfound All-Star power, including the likes of Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez, and both would be outstanding fits for the Padres given their projected window.
There are still some holes on the Padres depth chart, but with a few tweaks and value signings, they’re not likely far from relevance. If they’re serious about building a long-term championship contender, the Machado signing will be seen as the first of many dominoes to fall directly into their laps.
James O’Connell is a contributing writer for Bronx to Bushville.