In the end, after weeks of consternation and grumbling and one prominent player suggesting the free-agent freeze could lead to a midseason player strike, Manny Machado received a contract commensurate with predictions at the start of the offseason: 10 years and $ 300
That the deal is with the San Diego Padres feels only as a mild surprise at this point, given the various reports and rumors the past three-plus months. While it's not the contract that agent Dan Lozano might have wanted – Giancarlo Stanton signed a 13-year, $ 325 million extension with the Marlins after the 2014 season – it's the largest free-agent contract in the history of American sports.
Can Bryce Harper beat it?
Manny Machado is headed to the Padres on the richest deal ever signed by a free agent. Here's what to make of the $ 300 million contract. Winner and losers
• Doolittle: Why the deal makes sense
• Law: Machado accelerates Padres
• & nbspSchoenfield: Fallout for Bryce, baseball
• Fantasy impact | Machado timeline
With Machado off the big dartboard or free agency, Harper now holds the cards. Teams that wanted Machado or Harper now have just one option. Reports suggested that Lozano and Scott Boras were a bit of a staring contest, waiting for the other player to sign potentially pushing the jilted teams – we mean you, Philadelphia Phillies – to a more desperate, higher bid. 19659002] Of course, one of the teams willing to pay $ 300 million is now off the board as well – it would seem inconceivable that one team would spend $ 600 million on two free agents in one offseason – so at the minimum, Harper has One less team bidding for his services than Machado did
But it only takes one.
Phillies' desperation increases: ] The offseason started with Phillies managing partner John Middleton saying, "We're going to spend money. And maybe even a little bit stupid about it." They remain the one team publicly connected to Machado and Harper during the winter, although it's not clear whether they've made a formal offer to Harper. Various McCarthy reports that the preferred Machado over Harper has a major hole over a bigger hole over outfield, especially after signing free agent Andrew McCutchen to a three-year deal.
At Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, Phillies GM Matt Klentak told reporters upon hearing of the Machado deal, "If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation, and sometimes you will be willing to walk away. up signing with the Padres. "
So what is their valuation of Harper?
What we don't know: Does Harper even want to play in Philadelphia? Leaving one successful NL East team where he has spent his entire career and has a comfort level for another NL East team that has been less successful (although on the upswing) would be a curious move, especially if the Nationals are still interested in bringing him back (and offering similar money). But the Nationals have spent a lot of money already this offseason, including Patrick Corbin's $ 140 million contract, and they project to have one of the best outfields in the game even without Harper.
Are the Giants serious about Harper? : They're an aging team that had the worst offense in the majors in 2018. Chasing down the Dodgers over the next half-decade already looks like a daunting task for new president or baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Now he also has to deal with an up-and-coming Padres team that has Machado and the top-rated farm system in the majors. Of note: Zaidi was part of the Dodgers' front office regime that never gave out a $ 100 million contract to a free agent under Andrew Friedman. Does Zaidi agree with the line of thinking? Will the need for a power hitter in the outfield – a 26-year-old in his prime – overrule everything? The Giants are a big-market team that has drawn 3 million fans nine seasons in a row, but attendance dropped last year to its lowest total since 2009 in a second straight losing season. The tech bros and gals in the bay may need a shiny, new toy to keep coming to newly renamed Oracle Park.
Again, does Harper want to play in San Francisco and maybe the toughest home run park in the majors for a left-handed batter?
The Yankees really aren't getting either of these guys: It's not impossible to see a fit for Harper – he, Aaron Judge and Stanton could have a timeshare in the corner outfield and DH spots – but Brian Cashman has declined to entertain questions about the Yankees' pursuit of the two players with specific answers, saying the other day, "I would reinforce I'm doing my job. Whether that's those two or others . " Hmm
Padres' down-the-road vision trumps the White Sox's: Well, maybe it was just a matter of cold, hard cash, but the White Sox, like the Padres, had to sell Machado on the future more than the present. If that was a factor, Machado chose the team with slightly better current roster and the much deeper farm system. On the other hand, he was the team in the tougher division.
Would the White Sox be in play for Harper? Most speculate that they can't envision Jerry Reinsdorf going $ 300 million-plus for Harper. But he does have Machado's son-in-law Yonder Alonso on the team
Does all this amuse the Dodgers at all?: The Dodgers sit out the Machado / Harper sweepstakes while the Padres, two hours to the south, snag one of the big stars. Hey, at least it makes the NL West a lot more interesting
Will Harper top Machado's deal or Stanton's record?: I'm not convinced this is certain to happen, especially after reading Klentak's remarks on Machado. While Machado comes attached with some character issues, Harper's on-field performance has been more inconsistent. She didn't have a great 2018, hitting .249 / .393 / .496 with terrible defense that dragged down his WAR to just 1.3. Harper could have made this whole process easier with a better season. You know the analytics departments have been crunching the numbers to project how Harper will perform just over 10 years, but just in the immediate future.
Harper has power and a good eye at the plate. One concern about his future is that he had a career-worst 31.4 swing-and-miss rate (compared to 26.8 percent in 2017 and 23.1 percent in 2016). Maybe he was pressing. He did a much better second half, hitting .300 / .434 / .538 and cutting his miss rate to 28.6 percent. Bottom line: If the Phillies are willing to go $ 300 million on Machado, are they willing to go $ 300 million on Harper?
Even with the rise of new tactics like the opener, old-school aces are leading the way.
The big left hander has said that the 2019 season will be his last, but it could help punch his ticket to Cooperstown.
From the free agents set to cash in to the big-name stars sure to
Does this mean all the free-agent signing slowdown will subside? Probably not. At Red Sox camp, when informed of Machado's deal, AL MVP Mookie Betts said, "There's still a lot more guys out there, so it's kind of hard to say. One of the best closers in the game is still out there [referring to Craig Kimbrel] , a young guy who is one of the best in the game, too, [referring to Harper]so it's kind of tough to say if it's good, but I guess it's a step in the right direction. "
What does this deal mean for Betts, Nolan Arenado or Mike Trout? Arenado, a free agent after 2019, is discussing a long-term extension with the Rockies.
"I don't think [Machado] has too much or an effect on me. I'm not sure, "Arenado said at Rockies camp. "I just know that I'm happy he signed. I think it's really good for baseball, a well-deserved contract. We need these guys signed and we need these guys playing ball."
Betts and Trout are free agents after 2020. Betts was equally demure on how Machado's contract could affect his future.
"I mean, we are different players, so obviously it's going to be a different time," Betts said. "I don't want to talk to anyone else's free agency. I've just got to worry about my own."
At the beginning of the off-season, wild speculation was that Harper and Machado could receive $ 400 million contracts. That was never happening, with Harper coming off a shaky season and Machado's perceived character flaws. Arenado probably won't get there, either, since he'll enter his free agency at age 28 compared to 26 for Machado and Harper.
Betts and Trout, however? Stay tuned, my friends. We might get that $ 400 million deal in two years.