There are a lot of people out there who spend a lot of time tracking every hot stove season rumor and parsing every offseason utterance in an effort to guess what a given team plans to do. It’s kinda fun to do that. There aren’t any games being played, so what else is there to do?
We do it less on this site now than we did, say, seven or eight years ago, however. Mostly because, over time, we’ve sort of figured out that what teams and team spokesmen say about potential free agent signings is rather pointless and oftentimes actively misleading.
The latest example comes courtesy of the San Diego Padres.
“If there’s another Hosmer contract or Machado contract that really makes sense, the answer from our organization is going to be, ‘Tell me more,’” Padres general partner Peter Seidler said after last week’s press conference for new manager Jayce Tingler. “If it lines up and it’s big money, we’re going to consider it.”
This came from the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday, in reference to the possibility of signing either Cole or Strasburg:
That is too rich and too long for the Padres, which makes it exceedingly unlikely, too, that Cole will end up wearing brown in 2020 . . . While at this point last year the Padres did not expect to be in on Manny Machado, who they ended up signing in February to a 10-year, $300 million contract, the reality this offseason is that they don’t see a way to fit another mega contract.
Sure, there’s a lot of wiggle room in what “big money” means in that first quote. And sure the second quote could merely be bluffing as the Padres play the long game with Scott Boras or manage fan expectations or whatever, but that’s sort of the point, right? No one ever defines their terms sufficiently well or says the actually important things out loud when it comes to these kinds of things. Why would they? At best it ratchets up fan expectations. At worst it could screw you in negotiations if, in fact, you’re interested in one of those players.
The upshot: we can read tea leaves if we want to — and when the news is painfully slow in, like January, we may be more willing to do it than we are now — but it’s kind of a pointless exercise. Until one of the few truly connected transactions reporters Like Rosenthal, Passan, or, if it involves a Scott Boras client, Jon Heyman, start talking about actual talks reaching a critical juncture, it’s all just disguising ignorance as knowingness.