The darkest of the dark horses we referenced Jan. 14 as a potential mystery team for Manny Machado is indeed after him: the San Diego Padres.
Multiple sources have told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Padres are in on Machado to play third base. This may come as a surprise, but the Padres need to do something to energize their fan base, and they showed with last year’s $144 million contract for Eric Hosmer that they are willing to spend.
If anything, that ugly Hosmer contract gives the Padres even more of a reason to spend. Why settle for 75 wins when you’ve already somewhat committed yourself to win now? As the world of Breaking Bad taught us, half-measures rarely work.
Plus, the NL West has been weakened significantly this offseason. The Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt, the Giants need to retool and the Dodgers do not have a better roster than they did in 2018. With a star, there would be a path to San Diego staying in the race for at least a little while.
San Diego’s interest in Machado also helps explain why there hasn’t been much movement in a Maikel Franco trade. The Padres have long had interest in Franco and began the offseason as the Phillies’ most logical trade partner for the third baseman.
From the Phils’ standpoint, trading Franco without knowing whether Machado is signing here would be pointless. From the Padres’ standpoint, acquiring Franco isn’t nearly as much of a needle-mover as signing Machado.
With $300 million looking less likely by the day for Machado and Harper, it is not a shock to see other teams lingering in the periphery of negotiations. The Phillies have more than just one team to worry about.
However, if you’re the Phillies, you’d rather have the Padres in on Machado than the Yankees. In that way, this offseason has benefitted the Phillies, with the Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs all less interested in signing one of the two superstars to a huge contract than most anticipated.
Spring training is about three weeks away. Something’s got to give soon, you’d figure over the next 10 days or so.
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