How the Padres Landed Manny Machado

Why the formerly frugal Friars ended up with a generational talent in his prime

Manny Machado’s first words at a Friday press conference were a major statement that spawned a major question:

“It’s finally over. I’m finally a Padre.”

But … how? How did the Padres, of all teams, land a 26-year-old future Hall of Famer when they were bidding against massive markets like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York? To start, San Diego really needed a 3rd baseman.

“(I had) a lot of conversations with Ron (Fowler, Padres Executive Chairman) about who’s going to play 3rd base for us this year,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller

“We were searching for 3rd baseman as A.J. kind of touched on,” said Fowler. “We tried a lot of trades and they weren’t coming together.”

The Padres were linked to Reds 3rd basemen Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel, and Miguel Andujar from the Yankees, among others.

“That was, obviously coming into camp, one of the most open spots and one of the spots that A.J.’s been determined to find an answer all off-season long,” said Padres Manager Andy Green.

However, the Friars farm system is so good they weren’t going to push anything too hard.

“We believe our number one farm system is even better than most people know,” said Padres General Partner Peter Seidler. “We don’t need to do anything. If A.J. can make a trade, great. If we need to be patient and let our prospects grow we were willing to do that. And then along came Manny Machado.”

In mid-January media reports updating Machado’s free agency started leaking. The offers were not as high as most people were expecting.

“I think when we saw the numbers that were out there initially for Manny we said we should probably check in,” said Fowler.

Still, signing a high-priced superstar like Manny Machado seemed like a Padres pipe dream.

“I remember the first time (A.J.) brought up his name this off-season I kind of laughed because I didn’t think it was a real possibility,” said Green.

The skipper would soon learn just how serious this pursuit was. The Padres involved the entire organization and had multiple departments do research to get a broader picture of what this addition might mean.

“They put together and explained to Ron, myself, and Peter the potential impact Manny would have from a business standpoint, from a revenue standpoint, from a brand standpoint, from an image standpoint,” said Preller.

That all checked out and with a Top-5 talent like this guy at a position of need the baseball decision was easy. So the G.M. went to Florida to make his pitch.

“I liked what A.J. had to say” said Machado. “I liked the game plan: what they brought to the table from ownership to front office to coaching staff to the players. The whole she-bam was just so perfect.”

Add in the San Diego weather, great endorsements from former Padres Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay (two of Machado’s best friends), and $300 million, and the Padres had their 3rd baseman.

“We found someone near the top of our list, I think,” quipped Preller about his long search for a 3rd baseman yielding one of the best to ever play the position.

But the biggest question is that contract. It’s the richest free agent deal ever signed in North America. How did this team that’s been trying to reduce debt left from previous owners suddenly have enough cash for a deal like this?

Turns out reducing that debt gave the Padres some financial flexibility so Fowler and Seidler said go for it.

“We’re both business guys. We understand numbers,” said Fowler. “We’ve run the numbers and we know what to expect. I think we have some very conservative projections from our business people so it’s going to be bracketed numbers for a few years in terms of revenue or profitability (meaning they’ll be losing money overall) but we think he’s worth it. As people have said he’s a generational talent. In a perfect world he’d be available next year but he’s not so you have to do what you think is best for your team long-term.”

The owners are going all-in on winning a World Series. And what are Machado’s goals?

“Hopefully get the City of San Diego back to the playoffs and bring a championship,” said Manny.

If that does end up happening you can count on #13 being retired some day at Petco Park.

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