San Diego Padres

Lessons and tidbits from the Manny Machado negotiations

Lessons and tidbits from the Manny Machado negotiations

It's reasonable to assume, given what we know about the Phillies' pursuit of Manny Machado and their unwillingness to go to $300 million to get him, that their best offer to him was in the mid-$200 millions over a slightly shorter term. 

Something in the $250 million range, perhaps higher, over seven or eight years — an enormous amount of money and also an average annual salary directly in line with what Machado will receive over 10 years from San Diego.

Such a deal would have netted Machado the highest per-year figure of any position player ever. In the end, he opted for the most guaranteed money and you can't blame him for doing so.

According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox offered Machado eight years and $250 million with options and incentives that could have taken the deal to $350 million. Those options, per USA Today, were two vesting options worth $35 million apiece. 

You can see why Machado opted for the guaranteed money over the possibility of earning more through options and incentives. Those options would have obviously been at the very end of his deal, and it wouldn't have been overly likely that he'd reach them by playing or producing enough at ages 33 and 34. In other words, the $60 million guaranteed Machado will earn in Years 9 and 10 of his Padres deal will probably be more than he could've gotten after eight guaranteed years from another club.

You can't fault a team like the Phillies or White Sox for not matching 10 years and $300 million. "What's the difference between $250M and $300M," some might ask, but it's a huge difference. Especially when the $50 million difference in question would be paid during the player's age-35 and age-36 seasons, which don't figure to be great years. Players do not age gracefully in their mid-30s the way they did during the Steroid Era. It's a major reason why the multi-year deal has disappeared for veteran, non-star free agents.

Beware the mystery team

A few more interesting tidbits about the Machado negotiation process, from Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The Padres did not emerge as an actual suitor for Machado until mid-January. It's yet another cautionary tale of why the connections made publicly aren't always the most meaningful. Everything about Machado-the-Padre now feels and sounds right, yet at the beginning of the offseason not a single person predicted it.

It's why you should be hesitant to instantly dismiss the words "mystery team" as an agent's construct. A lot of times, teams linger in the periphery and will be willing to pounce if everything lines up.

When will Harper sign?

By all accounts, Bryce Harper and Scott Boras are seeking a long-term deal, a similar length to what Machado received. But if the $300 million-plus offers for Harper do not materialize because fewer teams are in on him, Harper and Boras could change course and go shorter, which would bring more teams back into the fold. The complexity of this all is why a Harper signing might not be imminent. (Sorry.)

This process could end 20 minutes from now with a phone call, but there's also reason to believe it will plod along. Boras will find a way to extract top dollar even in an altered market. He almost always does.

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Bryce Harper hysteria mounts for Phillies as Manny Machado mania ends

Bryce Harper hysteria mounts for Phillies as Manny Machado mania ends

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies officials started daydreaming about the possibility of putting Manny Machado in red pinstripes a couple of years ago. They tried to trade for him in July. They hosted him as a free agent at Citizens Bank Park in December, wined and dined him in Center City and subsequently made him multiple contract offers.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Phils' long pursuit of the Gold Glove infielder ended.

General manager Matt Klentak got a phone call from Machado's agent, Dan Lozano. Machado was ready to move on a contract offer from the San Diego Padres, later reported to be worth $300 million over 10 years.

Did the Phillies want to stay in the game?

"There's a certain value that we believe a player brings and we were willing to be aggressive," Klentak said in a meeting with reporters later in the day. "If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.

"We've made no secret. We're really happy for Manny. We like the player. I think San Diego will be a very good fit for him. We made our bid, put our best foot forward and he ended up signing with the Padres.

"Over the course of four months, we had ongoing dialogue. We were certainly engaged with Danny throughout and Manny would have been a good fit, but again, you have to draw the line somewhere. The Padres are getting a great player."

Klentak would not say what the Phillies' best offer was. He shook his head "no" when asked if he would have done anything differently during the negotiations.

According to sources, Machado had been coveted by the Phillies' baseball operations and analytics staffs. Both believed that in this free-agent market, he offered the best possible roster upgrade because he is an elite defender at third base in addition to being a top offensive talent.

But news of Machado's decision was not met with disappointment in all circles of the Phillies organization and it certainly was not met with disappointment by the fans.

The folks in the box office have favored this winter's other big free agent, Bryce Harper, over Machado, whose controversial comments in October about not hustling created concerns about how he'd be received by hard-nosed Philadelphia sports fans.

Harper remains the overwhelming free-agent choice of the fans, and Machado's decision to play in San Diego, coupled with the Phillies' desire to make a big free-agent score in this winter of stupid money, puts enormous public pressure on the club to land the 26-year-old outfielder.

Klentak was asked if he'd spoken with Harper's agent, Scott Boras, in the wake of the Machado news.

"I'm not going to answer that," he said.

It is difficult to imagine the opportunistic Boras not having reached out to the Phillies after Machado's signing. Phillies officials met with Boras and Harper in Las Vegas in January and the two sides remain in contact. In fact, there has been an uptick in conversation between the two sides recently.

All along, observers of this free-agent drama have believed that Machado would sign before Harper. Now that Machado has set the bar, Harper will try to jump over it. There is some industry thought that he is seeking $326 million, which would put him above the $325 million that Giancarlo Stanton got in a contract extension with the Miami Marlins.

The White Sox, Giants and Nationals, along with the Phillies, have had interest in Harper. But can any other team play in the neighborhood of $300 million? The White Sox said they weren't willing to go that high for Machado. The Giants' interest seems tied to a short-term deal. The Nats reportedly offered $300 million to retain Harper in October, but there are questions about whether the offer still exists after a busy winter of transactions in Washington.

The Phillies are very leery about bidding against themselves. That caution might have hurt them in their bid to sign Machado. It could hurt them in their quest to land Harper. By the same token, they could be rewarded if they remain patient on Harper because it is very difficult to identify which teams are really in on him. This might be a field of just one.

Klentak would not say what the Phillies' valuation of Harper is. He would not discuss what the "walk-away" point would be on Harper, though there clearly would be one.

The Phillies have largely had a productive offseason. They got better with Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto. But from Day 1, this offseason was about landing one of the big ones and there's only one of them left. Gulp.

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Reports: Manny Machado agrees to deal with Padres

Reports: Manny Machado agrees to deal with Padres

Updated: 1:03 pm. 

The first major shoe has dropped. Manny Machado has agreed to a deal with the San Diego Padres, one of the top pursuers of both Machado and Bryce Harper, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

With Machado off the board, the Phillies’ pursuit of Harper will only intensify. They have been committed all offseason to landing one of the two superstars and now only one remains.

The deal is reportedly for 10 years and $300 million. It is a massive sum but it does not set the MLB record yearly salary for a position player, which still belongs to Miguel Cabrera at $31 million per year.

According to The Athletic's Dennis Lin, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said the Padres do not have a deal with Machado yet and are "continuing discussions."

However, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal says that Fowler's comments are "likely semantics." 

The Phillies had been believed to prioritize Machado because of his positional value and two-way ability. Offensively, however, he hasn’t had the same ceiling as Harper.

Over the last four seasons, Harper’s OPS is 96 points higher than Machado’s. Harper is also a much more selective hitter you can pencil in for an on-base percentage in the high-.300s, whereas a down year from Machado in 2017 resulted in an OBP below the league average.

Harper’s left-handed bat is also more of a fit for a Phillies lineup that’s best hitters are right-handed: Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura.

The Harper domino could now fall at any time. All along, one side was waiting for the other to make a decision. With Machado off the board, there is more pressure on the Phillies to get a deal done for Harper, even with one fewer suitor (San Diego) in the mix.

It will be interesting to see whether Machado can remain an elite offensive player at Petco Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in all of baseball. Keep in mind that all but a half-season of Machado’s career came at a great hitter’s park in Baltimore.

Machado is a career .271/.319/.442 hitter on the road, which wouldn’t be as meaningful a stat if he was headed to another hitter-friendly venue. Petco Park ain’t that.

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