Manny Machado

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rick Hahn talks Eloy deal, Machado pursuit and White Sox offseason in 1-on-1 interview

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rick Hahn talks Eloy deal, Machado pursuit and White Sox offseason in 1-on-1 interview

Chuck Garfien sits down with White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in Arizona.

They talk about everything from Eloy Jimenez signing a long-term contract with the White Sox to missing out on Manny Machado. Hahn discusses how long a new deal with Jimenez had been in the works (5:10), if the contract talks affected Jimenez at the plate this spring (7:00), why it took so long for Manny Machado to sign (13:30), why they weren't willing to guarantee the last two years for Machado (16:00), what Hahn would say to skeptical White Sox fans who don't think White Sox will be able to sign a premium free agent (18:00), how the White Sox lost a deal this offseason because of a tweet (22:30), whether the worst part of the rebuild is in the past, (24:30) if the stakes are higher now for those on the major league club (27:20) and more.

Listen below or click this link to hear the latest episode:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Cubs ripple effects after Mike Trout's monster extension

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USA TODAY

Cubs ripple effects after Mike Trout's monster extension

Want the good news or the bad news first?

As Mike Trout inked a ridiculous $430 million deal Tuesday morning that will keep him in Los Angeles for the rest of his career, the baseball world went into an uproar.

That move doesn't directly affect the 2019 Cubs in any meaningful way (though the Cubs host Trout and the Angels during the first homestand of the season), but the fallout will certainly drift over to the North Side of Chicago.

For starters, it obviously means Cubs fans can give up any hope of seeing Trout patrolling center field at Wrigley in blue pinstripes. Sure, trades happen even after these mega-extensions (as Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins proved), but the odds are pretty low.

Beyond that, what does it mean for the future of the Cubs' homegrown stars like Kris Bryant and Javy Baez? Both are set to hit the free agent market after the 2021 season and will be 30 and 29, respectively, at that time.

If the Cubs had visions of getting either player to sign an extension on a discount, Trout's contract is further proof that any such scenario may be a pipe dream.

Baseball's free agency process is broken...but not for the elite young players, which Bryce Harper and Manny Machado proved earlier this year when they signed for a combined $630 million.

As such, the Colorado Rockies (with Nolan Arenado) and Angels were able to keep their stars from hitting free agency, but they had to shell out a ridiculous amount of money to do so, paying each guy well over $30 million annually.

If Bryant and Baez are both still putting up MVP numbers in a few years, their market figures to be similar — especially while playing a premium position on the diamond.

So yes, the Cubs will have to pay up if they're going to retain Bryant and Baez after 2021. Given these price tags, they also might have to choose to go all-in on only one of Bryant or Baez.

However, the good news for the Cubs in regards to the Trout extension is they won't ever have to worry about facing him more than once every few years in Interleague play. Baseball's best player is likely not coming to the National League throughout his career, meaning he won't ever have much of a direct impact on the Cubs' playoff chances.

It also means Trout and Harper will not be joining forces in Philadelphia in two years, either, which is certainly good news for the Cubs and the entire NL.

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2019 MLB preview and predictions: How Cubs stack up against Padres

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USA TODAY

2019 MLB preview and predictions: How Cubs stack up against Padres

The National League looks as strong as ever, with as many as 12 of the 15 teams planning to contend in 2019.

The Cubs had a quiet winter, transactionally speaking, but almost every other team in the NL bolster their roster this offseason. 

But expectations haven't changed at the corner of Clark and Addison. After a disappointing finish to 2018, Kris Bryant and Co. once again have their sights set on another World Series.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Diego Padres

2018 record: 66-96, 5th in NL West

Offseason additions: Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler, Greg Garcia, Adam Warren, Aaron Loup, Garrett Richards

Offseason departures: A.J. Ellis, Freddy Galvis, Cory Spangenberg

X-factor: Joey Lucchesi

The Padres made a huge splash with the Machado deal, but they're not necessarily expected to contend in 2019. 

That being said, this is not a bad roster by any means. It wouldn't be all that shocking to see Machado and Co. making a push for the second Wild-Card at some point this year, but if they're going to, it will be because the pitching staff exceeded expectations.

You could put any pitcher's name in here as an X-factor — I just chose Lucchesi because hes lined up as their ace on paper at the current moment. The pitching staff is filled with a bunch of question marks and will likely be the main force holding this team back in 2019. Lucchesi was impressive at times in his rookie season last year, striking out 145 batters in 130 innings, but posting a 1.29 WHIP, 4.08 ERA and serving up 23 homers even while making half his starts in one of the best pitcher's parks in the game.

The 25-year-old southpaw may not turn into anything all that impressive as a starting pitcher or maybe he takes another step forward and emerges as a surefire long-term piece in the Padres rotation. Either way, he will have a pretty sizable impact on the team's overall pitching situation.

Projected lineup

1. Ian Kinsler - 2B
2. Manny Machado - SS
3. Eric Hosmer - 1B
4. Wil Myers - LF
5. Hunter Renfroe - RF
6. Manuel Margot - CF
7. Luis Urias - SS
8. Austin Hedges - C

Projected rotation

1. Joey Lucchesi
2. Robbie Erlin
3. Bryan Mitchell
4. Eric Lauer
5. Luis Perdomo

Outlook

This is a really interesting team that could go either way — challenge for one of the NL Wild-Card spots or challenge for 90+ losses.

Ultimately, I'm pegging them for somewhere in between. I think they're still a year away from emerging as a true contender, but there's a lot of exciting talent here and the arrow is pointed firmly up. 

The Padres are widely considered to have the best farm system in the game, with one of the game's brightest young stars on the verge of the big leagues in shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. But there's so much more beyond him, including a wide array of pitchers coming up through the farm system. Urias and catcher Francisco Mejia are only 21 and 23, respectively, and have high ceilings as well. 

Then there's the young outfield with Myers (28), Renfroe (27), Margot (24), Franchy Cordero (24) and Franmil Reyes (23). It remains to be seen how all those young players will get enough playing time, but there's so much upside here. Myers is already a borderline star when healthy, Renfroe is a slugging machine with a cannon in the outfield, Margot is a perfect post-hype sleeper as a former top prospect who has yet to break out in the majors and Cordero and Reyes are Statcast dreams with their impressive exit velocities.

And now the Padres are adding one of the game's truly elite players to the lineup in the form of a 26-year-old Machado who will be in his prime right as the rest of the top prospects are getting comfortable in their big-league skin.

Kinsler was also a solid add this winter on a relative bargain ($8 million over 2 years). He'll turn 37 in June, but he's still a good defender and decent hitter and will provide valuable veteran leadership. Plus, they eventually won't need to play him every day by the time Tatis is in The Show and forming a middle-infield punch with Urias.

The Hosmer deal last spring (8 years, $144 million) was a terrible decision and the Padres have to be kicking themselves on that to some extent a year later. But it's the only bad contract on the books and there's at least some reason to expect a bit of an offensive rebound. Before posting a .720 OPS and .253/.322/.398 slash line with San Diego a year ago, Hosmer put up a .799 OPS with a .292/.351/.449 slash line over the previous 5 seasons with the Royals. He's in a much tougher hitter's park now than he was in Kansas City, but some regression to the mean is probably in store for the 29-year-old.

As I mentioned above, it will probably come down to pitching with this team more than anything else. The arms just aren't there yet to help supplement an exciting young lineup. 

Padres starting pitchers combined for the 4th-worst ERA a year ago (5.09) despite playing in such a spacious ballpark. That doesn't look to be changing anytime soon, with Richards expected to miss most — or all — of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

The saving grace for this staff may be in the bullpen. San Diego finished 6th in baseball in reliever ERA (3.53), even including spending 1/3 of the season without Brad Hand and Adam Cimber at the back end of the bullpen. 

Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Matt Strahm are certainly not household names, but they're all coming off fantastic seasons. Warren and Loup are not big signings, but they could be solid adds to help give manager Andy Green an underrated bullpen.

Don't count on seeing the Padres in October this fall, but those days are certainly coming...and fast.

Prediction: 3rd in NL West

All 2019 previews & predictions

San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
New York Mets
Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals
Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals

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