Earlier today the Manny Machado sweepstakes came to a close. The Padres emerged victorious, landing the superstar infielder on a 10-year contract worth $300 million. The Yankees had long been connected to the shortstop, targeting him for well over a calendar year. Now, for the second time this offseason, they walked away empty-handed.
It may have taken a long time for Machado’s free agency to reach its conclusion, but one can expect that its fallout will stretch even further. From the Yankees’ perspective, the non-signing will follow them throughout the entire season and beyond. There’s a lot to process. With that in mind, consider these 14 thoughts on the matter:
1. Excuse me for a minute...
Ah, it feels good to get that out of my system.
2. Wow, the Padres shelled out $300 million for Machado? Good for them! For the moment, that deal stands out as the most lucrative free agent contract in baseball history. It’s second overall only to Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million extension. That record won’t last long with Bryce Harper’s free agency entering the final stages, but right now the Padres shocked the world.
3. Or did they? In a way this marriage seemed so obvious. All winter rumors circulated that the Padres had interest in acquiring a young third baseman. They reportedly coveted Miguel Andujar. It made sense that when they found Andujar unavailable they turned their attention to the free agent market. They just so happened to reel in the best infielder to hit the market since Alex Rodriguez.
4. Don’t sleep on the Padres. A lot of people in the comments, on Twitter, and on the radio think that Machado won’t sniff the playoffs in San Diego. Take a look at their farm system. They have the best pipeline of young talent in the game. Machado fits right into their youth movement. The Dodgers struggled to walk away with the NL West crown last year, and they did very little to improve this offseason. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are solid teams, but they figure to give way in the near future. It’s not too difficult to envision Machado leading the Friars to the postseason, be it the Wild Card or an NL West title upset, in the near-future.
5. Enough about the Padres. Machado made it no secret that he wanted to play for the Yankees. We heard about it for years. When a superstar of that caliber falls over himself to say he wants to play for your a team, a front office should consider themselves lucky. Instead, Brian Cashman and company made a half-hearted attempt and signed the decidedly inferior Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu.
6. The Yankees hosted Machado for a stadium visit around the holidays. They did the same for Patrick Corbin weeks earlier. When it came down to business, however, the organization showed little interest in signing either for anything other than a below-market deal. That reflects poorly on the team, and I recommend revisiting Josh’s post on the subject.
7. No, a player won’t take a discount to play for their favorite or hometown team. And no, they are not sellouts for signing elsewhere. A lot of ill-will went towards Robinson Cano when he signed with Seattle, and I suspect the same will go for Machado. There exists no privilege in playing for the Yankees. There is nothing special about wearing the pinstripes when the team doesn’t make a competitive offer. The players should absolutely take the best deal, and criticizing them for doing so is preposterous.
8. Many have used this signing to say that economic state of baseball is perfectly okay. For these observers, Machado signing for $300 million proves that collusion isn’t taking place. That’s not the case. Both Harper and Machado exist in a separate tier from the ordinary free agent. They always were going to get paid. It’s the second and third tiers that truly hurt. Think of guys like Adam Jones, Curtis Granderson, Mark Reynolds, and many more. They face the prospect of taking a minor league contract if they’re lucky, or they get forced into retirement.
9. I will concede that Machado’s contract bodes well for the immediate future. If he signed for a significantly below-market deal, say the $175 million figure that got floated earlier this winter, then baseball would be in clear and present danger. Adam Wainwright has already floated the idea of the season not finishing. Machado not getting paid would exacerbate the major problem that looms already.
10. Do you know what is 100% going to happen? Machado will get off to a slow start while Tulowitzki and LeMahieu absolutely rake in April. The “I told you so” crowd will be insufferable. Then everything will go back to normal. Machado will hit to a his true-talent level while Tulowitzki and LeMahieu fall into the 90-100 wRC+ range. It won’t matter, because the narrative will stick like glue. Matt Ferenchick floated this idea around the Pinstripe Alley offices recently and I can’t stop thinking about how accurate it is.
11. The Yankees have a lot of confidence in Andujar, don’t they? He has a legitimate bat, there’s no denying that. His defense, however, made him almost untenable in the field. In fact, the team found it such a liability they didn’t play in the season’s most important moments — the late innings of the Wild Card Game and Game Four of the ALDS. It was reported earlier that Andujar is working on a different approach at the hot corner. He doesn’t have to turn into a prime-time defender. He just needs to get to an average level, and the Yankees think he can. This decision will define the organization for a long time. Nothing will be as bad as the Yankees shopping for a third baseman in the next offseason or so.
12. The most frustrating — no, infuriating — part of this offseason has been how the organization treated fans. Ownership belittled the intelligence of the people who pay their hard-earned money on tickets. Hal Steinbrenner said that adding an infielder or outfielder wasn’t a club priority this winter. Then how does one explain the decisions to sign Brett Gardner, Tulowitzki, and LeMahieu? He fought back against the notion that the club behaved cheaply, citing a laundry list of expenses as he cried poor. Revenue, however, is through the roof! And how did a small market team like the Padres, one who Forbes values at $266 million in revenue, shell out the largest free agent contract in history? If the Yankees had a proportional payroll, they would clear $300 million easily.
13. This GIF sums up the relationship between Yankees fans and ownership well. Fans want the team to go for the jugular! Steinbrenner avoids the big contract, complains about people criticizing him, then does what he wants anyway.
14. Barring a surprise last-minute acquisition, the 2019 Yankees are in place. The team will win a lot of games! They will stand out as one of the best teams in baseball. Failing to sign Machado, or any other top free agent for that matter, means they didn’t break away from the pack. They didn’t establish themselves as THE best team in baseball. I just hope they don’t end up in a dogfight with the Red Sox down the stretch, wishing they had a little extra offense. That would make this half-hearted pursuit sting even more.