During the long preamble to this remarkable news, it seemed clear the San Diego Padres stood above everyone else in the Major Leagues when it came to need and resources in terms of signing Manny Machado.
The big question was whether Machado would want to commit the prime years of his career to playing for an organization that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 12 years, that hasn’t able to escape its own shadow. San Diego has been .500 only twice since 2006, the last time in 2010. In 2018, they were 66-96 and in last place in their division.
Well, now we know the answer. Machado and the Padres have agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal, the largest free agent contract in the history of American sports.
Until Tuesday, the 10-year, $275 million deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees in 2007 was the largest ($27.5 million average). The 13-year, $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014 averaged $25 million annually.
So, we can safely assume given the kind of money he was asking for and received, Machado would have played anywhere.
For Machado, just 26 years old, the $30 million average salary nearly doubles what he made playing for the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers last year. And it guarantees that San Diego, at least until the 2019 season begins to play itself out, is now one of the centers of the Major League Baseball world.
Sources are telling ESPN and MLB.com the deal comes with an opt-out after its fifth year in 2023. That means Machado can look for work elsewhere, perhaps even more money, at the point of his life.
The Padres are buying one of the game’s exceptional young stars, a shortstop and third baseman with matinee power and swag. He had posted a career-high .905 OPS in 2018, with a .297/.367/.538 slash line. He hit 37 home runs, 107 RBIs and had 14 stolen bases. And after he was dealt to the Dodgers, he helped them get to the World Series, although he hit under .200 in those five games.
The Padres need the punch and they had the cash to get. First baseman Eric Hosmer was their highest paid player ($21 million) until Tuesday. He signed an eight-year, $144 million deal before the 2018 season.
So now the Padres will pay $51 million to the center of their lineup, which scored only 3.8 runs a game last season. Pitcher Garrett Richards ($7 million) and leftfielder Will Myers ($5.5 million) are the only others due to make more than $5 million in 2019.
Before Tuesday, the team’s total payroll was only $74.2 million, which left a lot of room for growth until 2020 when Myers salary jumps to $22.5 million.
Here is an interesting number, according to ESPN: Over the previous 25 seasons, they paid only $309 million to free agents, 27th in the Majors. They have spent $474 in the last two years, the most in the Majors.
And Bryce Harper is still on the vine.
Machado also comes to San Diego with 175 career homeruns. The Padres began play in the National League in 1969 and in all that time Nate Colbert’s 163 homers are the most anyone is mustard and brown has ever hit for the team.
What’s not known as the moment is where Machado will play. He is a natural shortstop, but he may be a better third baseman. The Padres have one of MLB’s best young players, Fernando Tatis, Jr., who is a shortstop. And he is ready to debut this season.
If you want to feel bad, feel bad for the Chicago White Sox. Along with the Philadelphia Phillies, they were the first ones in on Machado. But the White Sox acquired Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonzo, and Jon Jay, one of his best friends, in a not-so-subtle effort to lure him to town. It failed.
“I’m wearing my shades so you can’t see the shock in my eyes,” White Sox general manager Kenny Williams told reporters on Tuesday. “Very surprised. There are a few other words you could put on that, but still in a little bit of disbelief. … I honestly believe we had the best offer on the table.”
Machado does come with a blinking neon warning sign. He is considered kind of a brat, certainly not one of the game’s best-behaved players. He has been involved in spats with the Boston Red Sox and even his former fans in Baltimore were booing him before the trade for his lack of hustle. He told Fox Sports last season that hustling was not his cup of tea.
If that plays out again in San Diego, they might want to replace the tea with vinegar, even if he hits at least 30 homers and 30 doubles for the fifth straight season. In 2017, he became the first member of the Orioles (30th in history) with 270 extra-base hits before his 25th birthday.