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Manny Machado is actually perfect for the Padres

Paying for great baseball players is never a bad strategy

Half of our long national nightmare is over. Manny Machado, one of the two top prizes on baseball’s free agent market, has signed, and with a somewhat surprising team. Machado landed with the San Diego Padres for an eye-popping $300 million over 10 years. The contract, which was finalized on Thursday, includes an opt-out clause after 2023.

Terms of the deal were first reported by per Jeff Passan of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Sure, it took until after spring training camps opened throughout baseball for Machado to sign a deal, but the wait it appears was worth it. At $300 million, Machado has the largest free agent deal in baseball history, surpassing the $275 million over 10 years that Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees after 2007, when MLB’s annual revenue was reported at $6 billion.

In 2018, MLB had reported revenues of $10.3 billion, per Forbes.

The only contract larger than Machado’s in baseball is the $325 million deal signed by Giancarlo Stanton with the Marlins, though that was a 13-year pact, and one signed before Stanton reached free agency.

Bryce Harper is the other top prize on the market and may or may not surpass $300 million, but for now Machado owns the top free agent contract ever in the sport, which surprisingly puts the Padres in rarefied air.

Eric Hosmer last winter signed an eight-year deal with San Diego for $144 million, giving the Padres for the moment the highest total free agent contracts for two years running. It didn’t work out in 2018 for the Padres, who lost 96 games. San Diego hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, and has averaged a shade under 90 losses in the eight years since.

Before Machado the Padres had a payroll of just $80 million for 2019 per Cot’s Contracts, meaning they had plenty of room to add, and frankly still do even after Machado. Maybe if they add some pitching — Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents, after all — San Diego might accelerate their success even faster.

But Hosmer, like Machado, is a long-term play for the Padres, who have one of the most impressive arrays of young talent in the game.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is either the best, second-best or third-best prospect in all of baseball, depending on your national list of choice, a shortstop who figures to reach the big leagues as soon as 2019. Tatis hit .286/.355/.507 with 42 extra-base hits in 88 games in Double-A last year, and he turned just 20 in January. Tatis is one of a whopping eight consensus top-100 prospects in baseball for the Padres, who have three other players who also show up on various national lists.

Padres top 100 prospects

Player Pos 2019 age Baseball America Baseball Prospectus ESPN FanGraphs MLB Pipeline
Player Pos 2019 age Baseball America Baseball Prospectus ESPN FanGraphs MLB Pipeline
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS 20 2 3 1 3 2
MacKenzie Gore LHP 20 28 28 7 22 15
Luis Urias 2B 22 31 17 56 24 23
Francisco Mejia C 23 32 20 29 59 26
Chris Paddack RHP 23 66 37 44 34 34
Adrian Morejon LHP 20 52 72 46 86 49
Luis Patino RHP 19 67 74 50 42 48
Logan Allen LHP 22 92 84 80 93 74
Michel Baez RHP 23 85 72
Ryan Weathers LHP 19 93
Josh Naylor 1B 22 99
Age as of opening day 2019 Source: Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, FanGraphs &

San Diego’s prospect capital is so robust, agent Scott Boras last winter called it “a volcano of hot-talent lava.”

“Manny is one of the truly elite players in baseball and impacts the game on both sides of the ball,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. “We’ve spent the last several years building a foundation of talent throughout our system that allows us to make a landmark signing such as this.”

Pretty soon several of these players will be in the majors, and the Padres’ fortunes will turn. Now they get to join a team with a superstar in his prime in Machado.

Machado gives the Padres a true impact bat in the middle of their lineup, and one who is still just 26 years old. Machado hit .297/.367/.538 with the Orioles and Dodgers in 2018, and his 37 home runs gave him four straight years with at least 33 home runs.

Whether he plays shortstop or third base in San Diego, Machado will be a huge upgrade. Padres shortstops hit .241/.293/.375, an 82 wRC+ in 2018, ranking 24th in MLB. San Diego third baseman hit .231/.299/.409, a 94 wRC+ that ranked 19th. Machado had a 141 wRC+ last year, and is at 120 for his career.

Machado will still be in his prime when San Diego starts getting good again, which makes this a perfect fit. Adding great players is never a bad strategy.