Rosenthal on the Rangers: Sign ALL THE FREE AGENTS

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There isn’t a lot happening in free agent land yet. As Olney notes today, a big reason for that is the pending Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is likely to alter free agent draft pick compensation pretty substantially, thereby changing the overall value/cost of a big name free agent.

Thank goodness for folks playing the “what if” game, then, because we need some sort of creativity around this sport until we complain about awards votes next week. Ken Rosenthal is playing it in his latest column, with specific reference to the Rangers:

The Rangers need to change the conversation … I’m talking about spring training, when the team will want to move past its crushing Series defeat. I’m talking about finding a new direction, a new energy, a newraison d’etre. I’m talking about doing something big — something so big, the players will regain their swagger and re-emerge as one of the favorites in the American League.

He thinks the Rangers should go after Prince Fielder. And Mark Buehrle. And one of the top closers like Heath Bell. He acknowledges that it would be crazy-expensive to do that sort of thing but thinks it’s worth it to shake things up.

I like the idea of Buehrle because I think the Rangers could use some rotation bolstering, but going after one of the big first baseman and a closer seems a bit much.  They still have the three-headed Napoli/Young/Moreland monster at first base to deal with. They have a fantastic bullpen already, its World Series shortcomings being a matter of fatigue, not lack of talent.

Mostly, though, I see a team that won its division by ten games. And which doesn’t look to be any worse next year. And whose competition isn’t likely to be any better.  And a team who, if Nelson Cruz didn’t feel the wall looming in Game 6, would have won the World Series.

The Rangers doesn’t seem like a candidate for a tone-change. Just some better luck and another crack at it next year.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.