John Middleton contends ‘stupid money’ quote was taken out of context

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Back in November, Phillies owner John Middleton uttered a phrase that would become the theme of his team’s offseason endeavors. Speaking to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, Middleton said, “We’re going into this [offseason] expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.” Middleton added, “We just prefer not to be completely stupid.”

Shortened to “stupid money,” the Phillies’ efforts from that point forward were judged by that standard Middleton had inadvertently created for himself. For instance, when Manny Machado inked a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres on February 19, I wrote that the Phillies were under pressure to spend “stupid money.” The Phillies didn’t come all this way, rebuilding the minor league system and slashing payroll, only to come back from the superstar-studded 2019 offseason with zero superstars, I argued.

On Monday, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb published a fantastic narrative, illustrating every step of the process that ultimately led to the Phillies and Bryce Harper agreeing on a record 13-year, $330 million contract. The whole thing is worth your time, but one thing in particular stood out to me: Middleton contends that the “stupid money” quote was taken out of context.

“Stupid money” had an impact beyond creating expectations among fans. According to Gelb, agents began leaking details about their meetings with Phillies representatives in order to drive up the prices for their clients. Teams trying to unload expensive players often called the Phillies before any other team, and teams circled back with the Phillies before agreeing to a trade to see if the ante could be upped at all.

Humorously, after the Harper news went public last week, Middleton texted Nightegale, “Was that stupid money?” Considering that the Phillies have already seen a dramatic surge in ticket and jersey sales since the Harper signing, it’s not looking like it.

Harper, by the way, is expected to make his spring debut for the Phillies on Saturday.

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster 11-year, $280 million contract, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.