It took 113 days of free agency to play out, but Manny Machado is headed to San Diego on the largest deal ever handed out to a free agent. What does the deal mean for baseball’s new $300 million man, the team that signed him and other interested parties (read: Harper, Bryce)? We asked ESPN baseball writers Eddie Matz, David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle and Sam Miller to break it down.
Gut reaction: Do you like this deal for the Padres?
Miller: Gut reaction, yes. The Padres probably won’t be very good this year, but with the best current farm system in baseball they probably will be quite good in many of the next half-dozen years, and players like Manny Machado aren’t just freely available to pick up when a team decides to flip the switch and compete. They just got an MVP candidate for the middle of the lineup and all it cost them was money.
Schoenfield: Absolutely. Over the past four seasons, Machado has averaged 36 home runs, 159 games and 5.8 WAR. They gave superstar money to a superstar player, as opposed to superstar-type money to Eric Hosmer. Machado becomes the face of the franchise and by midseason will likely be teaming with rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. to give the Padres one of the best left sides of the infield in the majors. For a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 or made the playoffs since 2006, they finally are moving in the right direction.
Matz: What’s not to like? Manny immediately brings major sizzle to San Diego.
Doolittle: Absolutely. This gives San Diego’s entire rebuild a firm foundation. As big as the contract numbers are, it’s fair value for what Machado is likely to do in the future and because of his age and the length of his track record, the risk is comparatively low for deal this large.
Who is the biggest winner of Machado joining the Padres?
Miller: Cleveland. With the White Sox failing to sign Machado, Cleveland can now be pretty sure no other team in the division will win even 85 games this year. Terry Francona can start resting his players for the playoffs … now.
Schoenfield: Baseball writers. Something to write about besides “Where will Machado and Harper end up?” OK, the free-agent market is also the winner here, because for all the whining, Machado got the contract everyone expected at the start of free agency.
Matz: Machado. Forget about the $300 mil — he gets to live in San Diego! Close runner-up: Bryce Harper. If Machado’s getting $300 million from the Friars, imagine the check that John “Stupid Money” Middleton is going to cut to seal the deal for Harper.
Doolittle: Is it snarky to say that it’s Rob Manfred? In that little verbal slap fight he had through the media with Tony Clark on Monday, isn’t this pretty much what he said would happen? If the ship be sinking, how did a player get a contract like THIS?
Who is the biggest loser of Machado joining the Padres?
Miller: I don’t really see a loser. The Padres got a good player, the player got a reasonable contract, and the other 29 teams all have plenty else to worry about.
Schoenfield: The Phillies. Reports all along suggested Machado was the player they preferred over Harper. Now one of them is off the board and there’s no guarantee Harper will sign there either.
Matz: Fernando Tatis Jr. So what if Manny’s way better at third base. If he wants to play shortstop, then Tatis — the No. 2-ranked prospect in baseball — might get bumped to the hot corner.
Doolittle: Ian Kinsler, because now he’ll be a utility guy? Sorry, but I’m not seeing many losers in this scenario. There are all the teams that might have wanted Machado (or should have), but the only one I’d term a real loser is the Phillies. But that’s only the case if they don’t end up with Bryce Harper.
Now that Machado is headed to San Diego, who is the favorite to land Bryce Harper?
Miller: Machado getting a normal deal reassures us that this is still a relatively normal market and probably rules out the possibility that some team was going to swoop in and get Harper for a short deal or an unthinkable bargain. So the most likely outcome is probably just the least surprising one: the Phillies.
Schoenfield: Most people will say the Phillies. We’ll see.
Doolittle: It’s got to be the Phillies. I thought the White Sox might be able to top any Machado offer, but if it comes down to them out-bidding Philly on Harper, I don’t see Jerry Reinsdorf pulling the trigger. Philadelphia just has more reasons to extend themselves.
Manny got $300 million over 10 years. How much more do you think Bryce Harper will get?
Miller: Ten and $330 million.
Schoenfield: How desperate are the Phillies? That’s what we don’t know. I think Machado is the better player — or at least the more consistent. Harper has the bigger upside based on his 2015 season, but there are more risks involved, especially given his poor defense in 2018. But Scott Boras will probably find a way to extract a couple extra million more than Machado received. And then everyone can stop their whining.
Doolittle: I’ll say 10 years, $330 million. It’s “only” an extra $3 million per year than Machado got and it’s $5 million more in total value than Giancarlo Stanton’s deal. It seems like that’s the kind of thing Boras and Harper would push for.