Posted on February 19, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The San Diego Padres have won the Manny Machado sweepstakes. Raise your hand if you saw that happening at the start of the offseason. Multiple outlets are reporting that the Padres and Machado have agreed to a 10-year deal worth $300 million. The contract also gives Machado the option to opt-out after five seasons.
The 26-year-old Machado was one of two giant fish in the free agent pool this winter, along with the still-unsigned Bryce Harper. However, both have struggled to secure the mega deals each has been seeking. Even more surprising is the fact that most of the big-market teams that typically spend freely didn’t appear all that interested in Harper or Machado. In the end, Machado got the money he wanted, albeit with a team few expected to have any chance of signing him.
Machado’s $300 million deal is the largest free agent contract in American sports history. The deal is only surpassed by the 13-year, $325 million extension Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins. However, there’s every chance that Harper will surpass Machado in total guaranteed money.
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On the field, signing Machado should significantly accelerate San Diego’s rebuilding project. The Padres haven’t had a winning season since 2010. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and they haven’t won a postseason series since 1998. Last year, they won just 66 games and finished last in the NL West. Needless to say, it could take more than signing Machado to make them a serious competitor in the NL West.
However, the future appears to be bright for the Padres. They have one of the best farm systems in baseball with 10 prospects who are ranked among the top 100 in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. San Diego also made a big splash last offseason by signing first baseman Eric Hosmer to a long-term deal. They also have a number of young players already in the big leagues forming a young core, including Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, and Hunter Renfroe. After years of losing and rebuilding, the Padres finally appear ready to start working their way up the pecking order in the NL West, especially with the addition of Machado.
Despite playing shortstop last season in preparation for free agency, Machado projects to be San Diego’s third baseman of the future. Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the top prospects in all of baseball, is expected to be the team’s shortstop of the future. In theory, he could potentially move to third base, allowing Machado to play shortstop. However, Machado’s size could ultimately force him back to third base, where he’s spent almost his entire big league career anyway.
Meanwhile, Luis Urias, the top second base prospect in all of baseball, is expected to play shortstop for the Padres this season. San Diego signed veteran Ian Kinsler to play second base earlier this year, temporarily pushing Urias to shortstop until Tatis arrives late in the 2019 season or next year. That makes it all the more likely that Machado will step in as San Diego’s primary third baseman.
Regardless of where he plays defensively, Machado gives the Padres an impact offensive player they can build around. The trio of Machado, Hosmer, and Myers in the middle of the order could prove quite formidable while also helping to take the pressure off the team’s younger players. To be fair, signing Machado doesn’t immediately make the Padres a contender in 2019. However, considering the immense talent in San Diego’s farm system and the fact that Machado’s best seasons may be ahead of him, it’s a huge step forward for the Padres. Even if they’re still a long shot to make the playoffs in 2019, the future just got a whole lot brighter in San Diego.