TODAY: The Padres are considering a face-to-face meeting with Machado, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin tweets. Machado held some well-publicized meetings with the Yankees, White Sox, and Phillies last month, and it isn’t known if he has sat down with any other mystery suitors. As Lin and Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday (subscription required), however, multiple sources said they’d be “shocked” if San Diego signed Machado or Bryce Harper, with another source describing the Padres as a “longshot” for either player.
FRIDAY: The Padres have jumped into the Manny Machado derby as a late entrant and hope to sign the four-time All-Star as their primary third baseman, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While the Friars weren’t one of the early “mystery teams” for Machado, Acee notes, they’ve recently entered the bidding given the unexpectedly quiet market for Machado to this point.
The extent to which the Padres are willing to go in order to sign Machado remains to be seen, though the Friars did sign Eric Hosmer to an eight-year contract that came with a $144MM guarantee just a year ago. Machado is two years younger than Hosmer was when he signed that contract and, of course, has a vastly superior overall track record.
Signing Machado would give the Padres a premium third baseman to pair with fast-rising prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. If a Machado agreement does come to fruition, that quartet (Hosmer included) would seemingly comprise San Diego’s infield of the future, as both Tatis and Urias figure to receive the opportunity to cement themselves as regulars at some point in the 2019 season.
San Diego stood out as a plausible “mystery team” for Machado, as noted yesterday at MLBTR, given the team’s wealth of young talent, relatively open long-term payroll outlook and lack of a premier third-base prospect. While paying Machado at an annual rate upward of $30MM would clearly be a steep price for a Padres team that not long ago had a collective team payroll only a bit north of that ($37.9MM in 2010), the organization has just $64.25MM on the books in 2020 and $44MM in 2021. Beyond that, Hosmer’s contract was actually front-loaded, meaning his $21MM salary will actually drop to $13MM per year in the final three seasons of the contract.
Add to those circumstances that the Padres have a veritable tidal wave of young talent on the cusp of the Majors, all of which will be pre-arbitration for at least three seasons and arb-eligible for three years after that, and the team looks like it can support a few sizable annual salaries even if it continues to operate on a fairly restricted budget. Bringing Machado into the fold could slash the team’s 2019 profitability — though adding him to the mix would surely boost ticket sales, at least early on — but the money they still owe to Phil Hughes, Jedd Gyorko and Kazuhisa Makita will all be off the books after 2019 (none of the three are on the 40-man roster any longer). Similarly, the Padres will see their commitment to Hector Olivera finally evaporate after the 2020 campaign.
Payroll could be manipulated/reduced in other ways, as well. Certainly, the first season of Machado’s contract could come at a discounted rate, with higher salaries put into place in the forthcoming seasons. Additionally, the Padres are known to have been seeking a trade partner for Wil Myers, and if they can successfully move the remaining $64MM on his contract (or a portion of it), that’d also go a long way toward clearing room on the ledger for Machado.
At a certain point, given the reportedly tepid interest in Machado was bound to lead to some unexpected clubs jumping into the mix (if, in fact, interest ever was tepid; agent Dan Lozano had plenty to say on the to-date reporting regarding his client in a statement issued last week). The Phillies and White Sox are still known to be serious suitors for Machado’s services, with the Yankees lurking on the periphery at the very least. There were reportedly multiple “mystery” teams in the mix for Machado as well, however, so it’s quite possible that another suitor or two will emerge before he puts pen to paper and brings finality to his long-running free-agent saga.