Spring Training is officially underway for all 30 teams. College baseball is back in full swing. Manny Machado is in the news again.
Baseball is back alright.
As teams settle into their preseasons in Arizona and Florida, a lot of eyes have recently been focused on the contract drama surrounding the San Diego Padres and their star third baseman, Manny Machado. As many baseball fans will recall, Machado signed a megadeal with the Padres in 2019, giving 10 years of service to the team in exchange for $300 million. A player option was worked in for 2024, meaning that Machado could opt out of his deal and re-enter free agency after this season.
In the days since reporting to Padres camp in Peoria, Arizona, news came out that Machado confirmed that he was likely opting out of his deal. Rafael Devers of the Red Sox just signed a 10 year deal worth $313.5 million this offseason, meaning that Machado could have the opportunity to get a pretty decent pay raise next offseason considering how the market is going. Furthermore, Machado’s deal was the second most expensive in baseball at the time of signing. Now? It’s not even in the top ten. So while opting out of his current contract seems a bit odd at first, it makes sense given the context. Manny wants a new payday.
So, shouldn’t the Padres be worried about this? Machado is an incredible player, and he’s done nothing but rake in San Diego – we’re talking a .280/.352/.504 slashline in 4 seasons with a .855 OPS, 108 total home runs, a 133 wRC+ on average, 2 All-Star appearances, 2 top 3 MVP finishes, and 2 First Team All-MLBs. It would seem prudent for San Diego to pay their stud hot corner…but apparently they don’t seem too concerned.
The drama arrives upon reading an interview Machado gave to the San Diego Union Tribune that was published earlier this week, when he revealed that he and his agent set a deadline with the Padres of February 16th to work out a new contract before he ended talks and focused on the upcoming season. San Diego management only made one offer to Machado, which according to the man himself was for an additional five years and only $21M in average value ($105 million) in added pay. This would not put Manny anywhere near the market value he wants to be at again.
This is a precarious situation for the Padres, who have recently committed $280 million to free agent signee Xander Bogaerts and $108 million to extending pitcher Yu Darvish. Not to mention Fernando Tatís Jr. having another 13 years and $316 million attached to him after signing a behemoth deal before the 2022 season. Case in point, San Diego is more than willing to spend. So it’s an interesting situation to hear that they might be lowballing a cornerstone of their franchise, all the while general manager AJ Preller and owner Peter Seidler swear up and down that Machado is a priority.
So what’s going on here? Should Machado have taken up the Padres offer, even if it wouldn’t get him back to top 2 in terms of contract wealth?
According to one FanGraphs author, maybe he should have. Machado has started to hit the aging curve that comes along with being on the wrong side of 30, and even with his stellar campaign last season has begun falling short on his projections according to ZiPS. The ironic part here is that, according to projected data, Machado’s stats and usage rate could potentially fall to the point where he is worth exactly the deal he currently has with San Diego. He could project to produce only a 2.5 WAR in his final five seasons.
Combine this age regression data with Machado wanting around 7 years and $200 million, and it’s entirely possible that teams won’t be willing to give him more than what he has already been getting paid on his current contract. The Padres depth situation with him, Bogaerts, Ha-Seong Kim, Jake Cronenworth, and the need to extend Juan Soto at some point all come together to mean it’s up in the air if Manny sticks around in the long run.
Ultimately, I feel that it’s in the Padres best interest to keep Machado around. No replacement they throw out onto third base past 2023 is guaranteed to play at the level he does. Regardless of what happens, it’s fair to say that San Diego needs to reprioritize how much they want to pay him, or risk losing a valuable part of the future.
Leave a Reply