When the Padres signed 1st baseman Eric Hosmer to the largest contract in franchise history a lot of people questioned the move for statistical purposes.
He’s not a Sabermetric darling. He’s a solid all-around contributor who got his money because he’s a professional, respected, calming force who knows how to lead a young clubhouse to a World Series title.
So for the fans of advanced stats the Padres have looked into a trade for Orioles star Manny Machado.
No I’m serious.
Fine I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.
Go ahead get it all out.
OK according to a report from long-time baseball reporter Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports the Padres have inquired about possibly acquiring Baltimore’s 3-time All-Star infielder. If you were going to make a bet and had to choose between the earth revolving around the sun or the Orioles trading Machado before the end of the season the easy money would be on the latter.
Baltimore is going into full rebuild mode. Basically they’re the 2014 Padres, who went from hopelessly hapless to having the top-ranked minor league system in baseball in less than four years. With all their high-ceiling prospects San Diego is expected to be a legitimate post-season contender by 2020.
The Padres adding Machado would be one of the biggest surprises in the last 50 years. I mean this guy’s career OPS (on-base plus slugging) is .815, wedged right in between Barry Larkin and Roberto Alomar. His career WAR (wins above replacement) is already just about 30 and Machado is only 25 years old. The only other active players to reach that number by that age are Mookie Betts and Mike Trout (although Bryce Harper will likely get there by the end of the season).
So landing Manny is a pipe dream, right? Maybe. Maybe not. To figure this out let’s take a look and see by asking three important questions:
1) Can they get him?
2) Can they pay him long-term?
3) Do they even want him?
We begin with … Can they get him? The answer there is yes, absolutely. The Padres are one of the few teams with the trade chips to acquire a difference-maker like Machado. The O’s want young talent and the Padres are flush with it.
You’d have to figure the absolute untouchables are Fernando Tatis Jr., Mackenzie Gore, and that’s about it. For a talent like Machado, yes, even someone like Luis Urias might have to be in play, as crummy as that would be. The question is how many of their prospects will it take and how high up the ladder will they have to climb?
The bottom line is if A.J. Preller and company want Machado they have the pieces to get him. That brings us to …
Can they pay him long-term? This is more problematic.
Machado is a free agent after this season and he is gonna get PAID. Some estimates have him asking for a Giancarlo Stanton-esque contract, putting him in the $300 million-plus range. That’s very likely out of the question for the small-market Padres.
Or is it?
Peter Seidler and Ron Fowler have not been shy about spending big to bring San Diego a winner. They anted up for Hosmer. They spent in the neighborhood of $80 million on the international market in 2016 alone. Since A.J. Preller took over as G.M. he has not been told no very often. Averaging $30 million a year-plus for the next decade for one player, however, is a long shot at best.
For it to even be partially viable one would figure Wil Myers would have to be in the package that goes back to Baltimore. In 2020 Myers’ annual salary jumps to $22.5 million a year through 2022. Having him, Hosmer, and Machado on the payroll is simply not going to happen. If Baltimore takes Myers in return we MIGHT be on to something and to be honest we just don’t know how deep the Padres pockets are yet.
Finally, do the Padres even want Manny Machado?
On the surface the answer is DUH!!! YOU COVER SPORTS FOR A LIVING??? YOU MORON OF COURSE ANY TEAM WANTS MANNY MACHADO!!!
Hey, there’s no need to yell.
If he stays healthy Machado figures to be one of the top-15 players in the game for at least another six or seven years. He’s been extremely durable early in his career but has already had surgeries on both knees. Of course if you look at his .304/.371/.554 slash line on a last place team those procedures don’t seem to be hindering him right now.
He’s playing shortstop for the first time in the big leagues this year and although that’s the position he grew up playing and what he wants to play in the future he simply has not been as good there as he was on the corner. If he’s willing to move back to 3rd, where he’s an elite defensive player, to make room for Tatis it would certainly be beneficial.
If he demands to stay at short and have the Padres shift their top prospect to 3rd that would be alright, too, although likely not as desirable defensively.
On offense Machado has few equals. His swing is a gift from God. He’s averaged 35 homers the last three years, is probably going to blast through that in 2018, and might have even more pop in there as he just starts to enter his prime.
Although this is, as Heyman also reported, likely just the Padres doing their due diligence and checking on absolutely everyone who might be available (a smart way to operate because you never know until you ask) isn’t it fun to ask What if?
What if they shock the sports world and go after Machado? What if they actually get him? And what if his agent, Scott “Hot Talent Lava” Boras persuades him to sign in San Diego long-term?
It’s certainly not likely. But unlike Padres teams of the past it’s not impossible either. The Padres have not had a superstar position player for the best years of his career since Tony Gwynn. Aren’t we due?