Getty Images

Why the Manny Machado deal is good for him, Padres

70 Comments

Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres is not something anyone considered possible when the offseason began. Even when the rumors began to trickle in about the Padres’ interest, there was considerable skepticism. “Surely they won’t go big for Machado, will they?” the conventional wisdom went. “They’re just trying to look like they’re trying, right?”

Nope. They were trying. And they succeeded. They signed one of the best and youngest free agents to hit the open market in many, many years. And now, I expect, we’ll hear a lot of people complaining about it.

You’re going to hear people saying that Machado is dumb for signing with a team that is unlikely to contend this year. That, as a top free agent, he should’ve chosen a “win now” situation. While most free agents give lip service to that idea — and while Machado will likely do the same when he’s introduced by the Padres — Don’t listen to that. Machado is entering his age 26 season. He’s committed to the Padres for at least five years and possibly ten. There is no reason why he should be bashed for not winning in 2019 — I figure the Padres for a third place team at the moment — when they may very well have a great chance to win for seven or eight or maybe even nine years of the next ten.

Will that happen? I don’t know. But I do know that one cannot, as so many often do, talk up the critical and crucial importance of building up a farm system and aiming for “sustained success” and bashing the idea of a win-now mentality when it comes to team-building and also bash a player for thinking in those terms as well. It’s not the most consistent look.

You’re also going to hear a lot of people bashing the Padres for being financially irresponsible in committing as much as $300 million to Machado. Sure, maybe that looks anomalous for San Diego, but let’s put it in perspective. If you assume that the Padres will commit $30 million to Machado in 2019, that would put their estimated 2019 payroll at a little over $100 million or so. Their Opening Day Payroll last year was about $96 million. In 2016 it was $112 million. They are not out of whack with what they’ve been able to do historically.

Might they decide later to unload Machado? Sure, depending on the no-trade language in his deal, if any. But if we hear rumors about the Padres looking to trade Machado to the Yankees or something in two or three years, it’s not because the Padres can’t afford Machado. It’s because they just don’t want to pay him anymore. Those are two very different things.

Finally, you’re going to hear people saying that, for Machado, it was “all about the money,” and they’ll say it as if that’s an indictment of his character. Stuff like this:

This is a Philly radio guy, by the way. Based on my experience with such beasts, this should be read as whining that Machado didn’t sign with the team he covers. It may also be worth noting that the Phillies only outdrew the Padres by 11,000 or so total fans last season — Philly was ranked 17th, the Padres 18th — so spare me the “he didn’t want to go to a baseball town” thing. That aside, if taking the highest offer on the market to play in arguably the most beautiful city in the country reveals some sort of flawed character, I don’t want to be virtuous.

Did he go to a situation that, in 2019, may not be as great a situation as he might’ve found in, say, New York or Philly? Sure, but he signed a ten-year deal, not a one-year deal. Did Machado take the money? Damn right he did. And he was right to do so, because there’s no one looking out for him but him, and you’d almost certainly do the same thing. Can the Padres afford it? Yeah, they can afford it.

The deal may end up looking bad for Machado one day, of course. Or it may end up looking bad for the Padres. But as we sit here right now, let’s hold our fire and avoid the usual kneejerk reactions. Or at least think about them a bit first.

Mad Dog Licks Boots

Getty Images
5 Comments

Earlier this week Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reported that the MLBPA and the league are heading back to the table more than two years before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires following the 2021 season.

This had been hinted at for some time, as the union has shown clear displeasure at the current state of business, particularly with the free agent market. The league, one might assume, is happy with the current state of affairs, but it also has an interest in heading off potential strife or even the hint of a labor stoppage in the future. Moreover, there are priorities which have emerged on MLB’s part since the last CBA was signed that they’d love to advance — pace of play, etc. — so they have some incentive to talk as well. So, while it’s totally newsworthy that the sides are talking, it’s also quite understandable and not particularly controversial.

It’s also quite understandable that, given that this is a negotiation between parties in an adversarial position, there will be public comments from the principles which involve advocacy or even posturing on occasion. That’s part of the deal of any negotiation that holds public interest. So, when Tony Clark, for example, says something like “the system doesn’t work,” and “either we’re going to have a conversation now, or we’re going to have a louder conversation later,” which is what he told Kepner, it’s not really a controversial thing. Indeed, it’s expected.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo thinks it’s pretty controversial, however. The MLB Network host and talk radio legend took to the airwaves yesterday blasting Clark for not being more deferential to Rob Manfred who “was nice enough to extend him an olive branch.”  Russo likewise asked, rhetorically, what “Rob” must’ve thought when reading Clark’s quotes “over his cup of coffee, and bran muffin, on Madison Avenue, after his workout and all those things . . . his morning coffee, milk and two sugars by the way — Sweet and Low.”

He’s the Mad Dog, but he certainly licks boots here:

 

It’s amusing enough that Russo believes that Clark, Manfred’s counterpart and adversary, is supposed to be deferential and thankful for the mighty Manfred. It’s even more amusing, however, that he takes the tack of arguing that MLB has no real interest in negotiating now and is somehow merely throwing the union a bone or offering an olive branch. In saying this Russo, whether he realizes it or not, is accusing Manfred of bad faith, optics-only talks with the union. I don’t feel like Manfred thinks he’s doing that. And I don’t think Clark would be talking to him if he felt he was being patronized to either. Indeed, the dance of the last several months around all of this was, in part, to ensure that that was not the case.

I don’t know what Manfred thought about Clark’s comments on Tuesday, but I do wonder how he feels about being accused by an MLB Network employee of playing games like this. It might be enough for him to spit out his bran muffin and coffee. Cream and two sugars and all.