Baseball fans have been waiting patiently for one of the two big free agents (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado) this offseason to sign their free agent contract in order to open the proverbial floodgates in terms of market dollars available. Finally it happened today when Manny Machado (5.7 WAR last season) agreed in principle to a North American sports record breaking free agent contract for 10 years at $300 million with the San Diego Padres.
While the $300 million is ridiculous for anybody in baseball not named Mike Trout this could turn out to be a great deal for San Diego. Obviously Machado is more than happy to go play in San Diego for that kind of money but he's also happy because the Padres have a bright future. Currently the Padres have 10 of the top 92 prospects according to MLB.com and have the top ranked farm system. This includes the top shortstop prospect (#2 overall) in all of baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr. Machado prefers to play shortstop which he did last season with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers but he's a platinum glove defender at thirdbase. A left side of the infield with Machado and Tatis for the next 6 plus years all in their prime is going to be a lot of fun to watch if Tatis Jr. lives up to his expectations.
Machado is a future Hall of Fame player and only entering his age 26 season. Historically your prime baseball years are ages 26-29 so the Padres will be getting the cream of the crop in terms of production for 4 years from Machado. Right now Machado before he has entered his prime is averaging over 30 HRs a season and 90 RBIs. It's not out of the realm of possibility that those numbers should go up even if he is hitting the majority of his games in Petco Park, a traditional pitchers park. While I don't see Machado hitting 50 HRs a season it wouldn't shock me to see him start hitting in the 40's with his frame, swing, youth and approach at the plate.
Looking at the Padres as a whole right now at the MLB level would be foolish if you want to say signing Machado is a mistake for the organization. Last year the Padres signed free agent Eric Hosmer to a long term deal (8 years for $144 million). This year they sign Machado to play the opposite hot corner of the infield to a long term deal. And when you look at their top prospects it fills the inside of the diamond quite well.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
15. MacKenzie Gore, LHP
23. Luis Urias, 2B
26. Francisco Mejia, C
34. Chris Paddack, RHP
48. Luis Patino, RHP
49. Adrian Morejon, LHP
72. Michel Baez, RHP
74. Logan Allen, LHP
93. Ryan Weathers, LHP
You pair Machado and Hosmer (both in their 20's) who play gold glove caliber defense and obviously hit with power to team up with young studs Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias (both just entered their 20's) in the middle infield and you have the potential to have the best infield in the game for the next 5 years. At the catcher position you have Francisco Mejia who is only 22 and one of the top catcher prospects in baseball. And if you look at the pitchers just in the minors you got 7 of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball led by MacKenzie Gore (15th overall) and three other lefties to go along with the 3 righties. That's incredible balance for the Padres and their future.
Overall I give the signing of Machado an A- for the Padres. I think he was the best free agent on the market and I think he projects to have a much better career than Bryce Harper. Machado will play in a market in San Diego where he can be himself and not get crushed by the media and booed by the fans every time he lazily runs to first base. If the Padres can continue to develop their farm system it wouldn't shock me to see them at least go .500 this season and then look to be serious division contenders starting in 2020 for the next 5 plus seasons.
What do you think? Is Manny Machado worth $300 million for the Padres?