Manny Machado is still a San Diego Padre. Bryce Harper is still a Philadelphia Phillie. And White Sox fans are still angry.
No, nothing's changed since earlier Thursday, when Harper broke Machado's week-and-change-old record for the biggest free-agent contract in the history of American pro sports, officially leaving the White Sox empty handed in their pursuits of the two biggest names on this offseason's free-agent market.
Neither guy ended up on the South Side, despite the fact that the team went after both, going especially hard on Machado, to the point where general manager Rick Hahn and team vice president Kenny Williams seemed blindsided when the 26-year-old infielder spurned them for the Padres last week.
Well, more than a week later, Williams voiced his opinion on the fallout in an interview with the Sun-Times' Daryl Van Schouwen, addressing the harsh reaction of fans who have taken to social media to express their outrage with the team's effort and approach to the negotiations.
"I was going to say it has already passed for us but Rick and I were talking about it yesterday, and it ain’t bleeping passed," Williams told Van Schouwen. "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**t, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars we offered with a chance to be higher than what he’s getting."
White Sox fans have indeed attacked the front office for being cheap, and Williams is not exactly wrong in correcting them there. The White Sox committed to spend as much as $350 million on Machado. That is, by definition, the opposite of cheap.
But it doesn't take someone with inside info to figure out that the reason Machado is playing for the Padres right now is that there was a $50 million difference in the amount of guaranteed money in the two offers. The White Sox only offered $250 million guaranteed, while the Padres offered $300 million guaranteed. Machado went with the latter. And while Williams is not wrong in arguing that the White Sox offer could have made Machado richer over time, if Machado breaks his leg tomorrow, he'll be $50 million richer than he would have been had he signed with the White Sox.
That's a big difference. And a lot of fans feel the White Sox could've and should've done more, what with the financial flexibility they've talked about for so many months. Williams, though, thinks they did the best they could have done.
"There is nothing I can say that will make them feel better," Williams told Van Schouwen. "Rest assured that no one is feeling what Rick and I are feeling because every single day since June of last year, this is what we had planned for, the pursuit of both Harper and Machado. 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.
"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 dollars) and change. So it was about years guaranteed. So there is an argument that could be made that our offer was the better of the two. It certainly had more upside for him. All he had to do was basically stay healthy."
Williams spoke the morning news of Machado's deal with the Padres broke, and his comments then irked a lot of fans, as he said part of the reason the White Sox couldn't commit more guaranteed dollars to Machado now was that they needed to plan for the day when their current prospects and young major leaguers need new contracts. That might be true, but it's at least half a decade down the road.
Well, the fans who were miffed by those comments that day won't be happy about these new ones, with Williams doubling down on that explanation.
"Our fans would have been much more disappointed in our inability to keep this next core together," Williams told Van Schouwen. "We would have overextended ourselves had we gone to an uncomfortable level."
The social-media rage is unlikely to subside, and these comments, coupled with the outcome of both pursuits, do little to disprove what Hahn referred to as a "false narrative" at SoxFest that the White Sox would not spend enough to bring top-of-the-line free agents to the South Side. No matter the effort level in the pursuits or the potential money committed, until the White Sox win a high-profile free-agent derby, that narrative, true or false, will remain intact.
In situations like these, money always seems to do the majority of the talking. Williams confirming that the White Sox were unwilling to spend what it ended up taking to land each of these free agents shows they might not have been having the same conversation as other teams, at least not the Padres with Machado or the Phillies with Harper.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.