“Padres-Historic Day in Baseball?”
The sun came up on a chilly-breezy day in San Diego on Tuesday, and then a bolt of lightning came out of the sky.
The Padres became relevant in their own community for the first time in a decade, and became relevant in all of baseball, with the signing of top free agent Manny Machado, the ex-Orioles and Dodgers star.
A record day, this (10Y) 300M contract. It includes a no trade clause early on in the deal, and an opt out clause after the fifth year.
Machado brings enormous credentials in a six year career, most of it in Baltimore, where he was the star on an Orioles franchise that has gone off the track under the ownership of Peter Angeles and his sons.
They called him and Bryce Harper, his free agent running mate, generational players. You hope so.
His credentials in his young career are special. A (.282-BA…175HRs). Last year, thru the dreary summer of a last place team in Baltimore, he still excelled (.297-BA…37HRs). And he got to experience the playoffs and the World Series after being traded to Los Angeles.
There are 4-All Star berths in six years. There are two Gold Glove trophies already.
He exceeds what Padres ownership did a year ago this week, the 144M-contract offer to Eric Hosmer of the Royals, and what they did two years ago, with the unheard of 83M-extension for Wil Myers, about to become an All Star that given year.
There are lots of questions out there, so I will try to answer them.
WHY DID RON FOWLER-PETER SEIDLER SPEND THIS MONEY AT THIS TIME?
..The blueprint said 2020 was the year they hoped to be a playoff team. Fowler admits generational talent like this does not come along very often. They felt adding his bat, glove, personality, now makes the rest of the everday lineup better. And in the first five years of the deal, before the opt-out clause kicks in, they have positioned themselves to be a player in the National League pennant race, almost immediately.
WHAT KIND OF PLAYER IS MACHADO?
..He is a grinder, who has missed just 11-games over the last four years. The proof is in the pudding, thru all types of bad situations in Baltimore, he came to play-produce nightly. He was taken just 2-spots after Bryce Harper was drafted years ago, and has done nothing but produce.
WHAT KIND OF PERSONALITY IS HE?
..Baltimore teammates loved him. The Padres hope he can be a leader to the young Latin group of players who now dominate the Padres clubhouse. His comment ‘I am not Johnny Hustle’ may bother some, but not since the lone star season of Chase Headley, nor the great days of Ken Caminiti, have the Padres had this kind of production at that spot. Some will question he wound up in San Diego, only because they offered him this blockbuster package. Yes he might have gone to play on the moon if that team offered more, but his metrics say he deserved a big payday. And why wouldn’t you want to play-live in San Diego, climate, stadium, and highly regarded farm system.
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DOES HE HAVE?
..In the middle of lineup, sandwiched by Eric Hosmer and Will Myers, with Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, around him in the batting order, that’s production. And maybe it makes the leadoff guy Manny Margot more productive. Maybe he helps Franchy Cordero become more consistent.
IS THERE AN IMPACT ON THE ROOKIES?
..Fernando Tatis, raw talent and all, can now develop without the pressure of being in the glare of the spotlight so much. Maybe the same for young 2nd baseman Luis Urias. and the young catcher Francisco Mejia. I’d hope Machado becomes the clubhouse leader that Will Myers never became.
HOW COULD THE PADRES AFFORD A 30M A YEAR PLAYER?
..Their payroll is made up of a majority of major league minimum salary players. The Padres payroll now gets to 110M, a shade above last year’s 95M figure. Of course they are still paying off on salaries of players no longer here, James Shields, Jed Gyorko, Phil Hughes etc. Virtually all their young pitchers will be making the major league minimum for the next couple of years, so there was room in the budget.
HOW DID THEY FINANCE THIS PACKAGE?
..Simple math. They took the 15M paid to Chase Headley last year, the 7.5M due Philip Hughes, the 6.5M that went to Freddy Galvis, Clayton Richards 3.5M and voila, there’s the 30M re-directed to Machado. If this were to be a trade, you’d deal all those guys for Machado?
WHAT ARE RISKS INVOLVED?
..You hope there are no major injuries to Machado. You know, because of his age (26), he won’t wake up as an albatross around the neck of a club, like the 10Y-Angels-Albert Pujols deal for the 165M-anchor that Chris Davis drags with him in Baltimore. Risks, not many, unless there is some career threatening injury. Add in mistakes like the Angels-Josh Hamilton..the Red Sox-Carl Crawford…the Giants Pablo Sandoval-Barry Zico…and the Braves Melvin Upton, and you see a lot of bodies on the side of the road.
WHAT ROLE DOES AJ PRELLER PLAY IN ALL THIS?
..Before we enshrine him into the Baseball Hall of Fame…let’s be honest, when you overpay for talent, you can lure them to San Diego. There will be criticism 30M a year for a decade for Machado is excessive. Preller did the same, gambling three years ago, when he made all those trades to take on aging Matt Kemp, James Shields, Justin Upton, Melvin Upton and the troubled Hector Olivera. He could have been fired for all those mistakes and the fact the Padres have had to pay out 36M…35M…23M over the last three years to get clubs to take those players out of San Diego. He could have been fired for that too, but ownership did not. They let him develop a new blueprint, spending large amounts in the Friars Farm System.
WHAT ABOUT HIS FARM SYSTEM?
..Preller operated in similar fashion. He overpaid for a lot of players, and now we await their arrival to see if it was money well spent. Little has been made of the tax he had to pay to sign. P-Adrian Morejon, 11M package plus 11M in taxes-that’s a 22M investment. He wound up forking over 14-for OF-Jorge Ona. And the same for SS-Luis Almanzar- whose package totals 7M investment. He went way above slot getting Stanford P-Calvin Quantrill to a 7M contract. In a 3-year span Prellar signed 95-draft picks, college, high school, internationals, for just over 105M. An enormous outlay of cash. Strength in numbers, but a whole bunch of them better pan out.
WHAT ABOUT THE CRITICISM THE PADRES SHOULD HAVE SPENT MONEY ON PITCHING?
..The farm system is loaded with arms. Joey Lucchessi and Eric Later were the first two to arrive. Logan Allen, Chris Paddack, Quantrill will be in the next wave. It may well be the Padres believe this batting order can score lots of runs, and that will give the kid pitchers some cushion as they grow up on the job. The history of free agent pitching breaking down is too strong to consider giving pitchers 5-year contracts any longer.
THERE IS PADRES HISTORY FOR BEING BOLD?
..Of course, Kevin Towers made the mega deal that got the team Kevin Brown. Former GM-Randy Smith was the triggerman on the Fred McGriff deals. The Ken Caminiti-Steve Finley-Ozzie Smith deals were huge in history. Long ago, back in the day, you do remember Ray Kroc, Ballard Smith, Jack McKeon and the era of free agent signings like Gene Tenace, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry more.
WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR THE PADRES BY OPENING DAY?
..It puts them in the wildcard hunt. The Giants have age and injury. The Rockies are retooling. The Diamondbacks are removing players and facing rebuilding. The division is now very different. Yes the Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs loom in the NL Central, and the NL East is a dogfight now with the Nationals, Mets and Phillies there. Of course Bryce Harper could be headed to one of those places before the week is out that might change things again.
WHAT DOES IT DO FOR THE COMMUNITY?
..Attendance has plunged to around 2M per year, in a big city that has had to look at a lot of bad baseball. I have maintained, you put a pennant contender here, you draw 3M a year to Petco Park. Not just
all the fans who come to see their out of town teams, Giants-Red Sox-Pirates-Cubs….but you will invigorate Padres fans to sample the new product. The ownership put its money on the table. Now we see if the players can produce on the field. If they do, I think the fans will fill up the seats. They’ve given us a reason to make Petco Park a destination spot again.