Ken Williams: ‘It’s a shame if it’s being portrayed that we were on the cheap on [pursuing Manny Machado]’

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One week ago, infielder Manny Machado and the Padres agreed on a 10-year, $300 million contract. Thus ended months of pursuit from other teams, including the White Sox and Phillies. The offer the White Sox reportedly made to Machado was for $250 million over eight years, though it had vesting options and incentives that could have brought the total to $350 million.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s net worth is $1.6 billion and the White Sox franchise itself is worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. Executive vice president Ken Williams doesn’t want to hear anything about the club being cheap, however. He said, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, “It’s a shame if it’s being portrayed that we were on the cheap on this thing. That’s really interesting because, holy s—, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars we offered with a chance to be higher than what he’s getting.”

The White Sox were virtually nonexistent in negotiations with Bryce Harper, who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies on Thursday. The club could have had either player — or both — if it truly wanted to, but Williams said, “Harper [was] well out of our range. With Machado we extended ourselves as far as we could without jeopardizing what we’re going to need to do in the future.” Williams added about Machado, “People are lost on the fact that on a yearly basis our offer was more than San Diego’s. The average annual value was 31 [million] and change. So it was about years guaranteed.”

As the Phillies recognized, rebuilding teams don’t just pray that they develop a Machado or Harper of their own; those teams also go out there and acquire them via trade or sign them as free agents. Allocating $30 million or so annually for 10 years wouldn’t be “jeopardizing what we’re going to need to do in the future” because Machado and Harper are the future. They’re both 26 years old. And unless Mike Trout or Mookie Betts actually reach free agency — they almost certainly won’t — the White Sox won’t have the opportunity to add a generational talent like Harper and Machado for a long, long time. To willfully limit oneself in the pursuit of these stars is indeed to be cheap. According to Cot’s Contracts, the White Sox are currently rolling with an $84 million 25-man roster payroll. They could have signed four Manny Machados at $30 million per year and they still would not have brushed up against the $206 competitive balance tax threshold.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.