After nearly four months of waiting, Manny Machado’s free agency came to a close Tuesday when he agreed to terms with the Padres on a 10-year, $300MM contract that represents the largest free-agent contract ever signed in American professional sports. Only Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325MM contract has ever guaranteed a player more money. Machado was pursued by other teams, most notably the Phillies, White Sox and (early in the offseason) the Yankees. While New York was already known to be out of the mix for Machado, the other two primary suitors still had hopes of reeling in one of the offseason’s biggest fish. With that in mind, here are some early reactions to the agreement and some notes on how those who missed out on Machado may proceed in the wake of today’s news…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets some insight into how the negotiations themselves played out. Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group, initially asked teams to submit their best offers in the final week of 2018. At the time, Machado had six clubs involved to varying extents. Those offers were shy of the $300MM guarantee Machado’s camp coveted, though, and rather than simply take the best offer presented, the agency continued working to drive up Machado’s price tag. Ultimately, of course, that proved to be a wise strategy. It’s not known just where Machado’s offers sat in early January, though Lozano made the rare move to publicly speak out against reports on Machado’s market, emphatically calling reports of Machado’s top offer sitting at seven years and $175MM “inaccurate and reckless … [and] completely wrong.”
- The White Sox offered Machado a higher annual value than the Padres but less guaranteed overall money, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links). Chicago’s top bid for Machado was a $250MM guarantee over an eight-year term with vesting options and incentives that could’ve escalated the contract’s value to $350MM. It’s rare, however, to see players max out their incentives and escalators (particularly on a deal of this length), so it’s not surprising that Machado opted for the larger guarantee. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale adds a bit more context, reporting that Chicago’s proposal contained a pair of $35MM vesting options in addition to incentives and escalators.
- Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that a high-ranking Padres official flatly informed him that the team will not sign Bryce Harper following the agreement with Machado. The Padres’ payroll will be in the neighborhood of $110MM — a franchise record — but while ownership is clearly willing to spend more than ever before in 2019, it’d still be a shock to see another seismic addition. Despite that report, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Friars won’t completely rule out adding Harper. The Padres have clearly done their due diligence on Harper, so perhaps they’ll continue to lurk on the periphery in case Harper’s view on a shorter-term deal changes.
- Acee’s column also offers a look at how the Padres came to reach an agreement with Machado. San Diego, according to Acee, hadn’t even expressed legitimate interest, let alone discussed an offer, until mid-January. Their early meetings revealed the asking price to be considerably higher than expected, but, as Acee notes, general manager A.J. Preller’s “creativity and relentlessness” ultimately swayed ownership into approving the expenditure. At this time, Acee adds, there’s no immediate plan to add another starting pitcher to the mix. Friars fans in particular will want to be sure to read the column in its entirety, which contains quotes from several Padres players on the reported agreement.
- Although Phillies owner John Middleton infamously spoke of spending “stupid” money early in the offseason, the price for Machado apparently reached a point where the team’s baseball operations officials simply weren’t comfortable. “There’s a certain value that we believe a player brings and we were willing to get aggressive on this,” general manager Matt Klentak told Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation, and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.” Klentak confirmed that the Phillies are still interested in Harper but cautioned that the team simply wouldn’t allow itself “to be put into a position where we have to do something at all costs.” There’s no way of knowing whether the Phils objectively value Harper at a higher number than Machado, but agent Scott Boras will likely be aiming to topple Machado’s guarantee and Klentak didn’t speak like someone gearing up for a bidding war.
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn expressed “frustration” and “disappointment” after learning of Machado’s deal with the Padres, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sox met with Machado’s camp Monday and presented an increased offer (as noted above), believing that may put them over the edge. Ultimately, though, it seems as though owner Jerry Reinsdorf knew the point at which he felt he had to walk away. “[The Padres’] ownership group did a great job in trumping everyone else,” said Hahn while also commending Reinsdorf’s “willingness to step up” with what would’ve easily been a franchise-record contract for the ChiSox, who have never signed a player for more than Jose Abreu’s $68MM. Hahn indicated that the White Sox eventually topped out because of a need to “project putting together a total winning roster, and keeping the young players that will ultimately earn into greater dollars themselves.” As for the money earmarked for Machado, Hahn said it would be spent, though not necessarily this offseason (Twitter link via Van Schouwen). It’s worth noting, of course, that next winter’s free-agent market has its own share of high-profile names (e.g. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Sale, Gerrit Cole, Xander Bogaerts, Madison Bumgarner).