We knew it was coming. The question was how soon.
In the time between the start of MLB Free Agency and the commencement of Spring Training, I’ve drunk hundreds of chai lattes, tweeted thousands of characters, and taken two trips to Mexico. The one thing that didn’t happen? Manny Machado signing a blockbuster deal. At least, until today.
Machado finally put an end to the rumor mill by officially signing with the Padres on Tuesday, according to ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan. The most coveted infielder on the market this offseason received 10 years and a whopping $300 million from San Diego.
The Padres emerged as a dark horse late in the free agency process. Machado began visits in December and the Phillies, White Sox, and Yankees were all presumed to be the favorites to land the veteran third baseman/shortstop. The three clubs ultimately fell short as San Diego simply outbid them all.
While the fans may not have enjoyed the process, patience was Machado’s best weapon. A month ago, the White Sox struck a similar deal, except the money offered was a lot closer to $200 million than his desired $300 million. In the case of the Yankees, Machado wanted a deal that would compete with Giancarlo Stanton’s mega-contract, a payroll New York was unable to commit to with so many young stars to pay on their roster. The Phillies also showed heavy interest in the four-time All-Star, but it became clear that their primary focus was instead on Bryce Harper, probably one of the most attractive free agents in the last decade.
Machado knew the right deal would present itself and the Padres, likely frustrated with the speed of their rebuild process, caved. Pairing Machado with Eric Hosmer (the Padres’ big signing last February) and top prospect Luis Urias in the infield was too great of an option to pass up. Although San Diego still appears to be missing a few pieces to dethrone the Dodgers and Rockies, they team has given themselves another long-term option for the future.
After Hosmer’s disappointing 2018 campaign, only time will tell if signing Machado was the right move for San Diego. The shortstop’s production took a hit once he was traded to Los Angeles, and his postseason debut was marred by inconsistent play, lack of hustle, and poor sportsmanship. However, Machado has averaged 35 home runs over the past four seasons and he’s established himself as one of baseball’s best defenders. Plus, he’s only 26.
So, what’s next? Machado’s new deal provides encouragement that Bryce Harper won’t remain unsigned for very long. Likewise, all of Harper’s suitors will be increasingly urgent in their efforts to get a deal done as soon as possible. Every eye in baseball will continue to track the outfielder’s every movement as baseball’s long offseason nears the finish line.