Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Today, Tuesday, February 19th, 2019, Manny Machado signed the largest Free-Agent contract in American Professional Sports history.
Sure, Giancarlo Stanton's mammoth deal was larger, but he was not a Free-Agent at the time.
Sure, Bryce Harper is still available on the open market, and in all likelihood will collect an even bigger contract than the Machado.
However, the fact that Manny Machado, at one point in time, will be known as the largest Free-Agent signing is American Sports, is pretty surreal.
Machado has reportedly agreed to a 10 year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. This deal will see him earn $30 million per season until 2029, or more precisely, $185,185.19 for every game he plays in the next decade.
Machado is an elite player, there is no questioning that. His 4 All Star appearances, 2 Gold Gloves, and career WAR of 33.8 over his 7 year career speaks to the tremendous amount of skill he possesses. But is Machado really worthy of $300 million dollars?!
In Defense of The Contract
Machado is an outstanding baseball player. New teammate Eric Hosmer, who also got a large Free-Agent contract from San Diego, called him "a generational talent" and perhaps he is right.
Machado possessed a career high .905 OPS last season, splitting time between the lowly Orioles and the high-powered Dodgers. One would assume his numbers trended upwards upon arriving in Hollywood with the Dodgers. However in reality, Machado was swinging to the tune of a .963 OPS through 96 games with Baltimore, and had a respectable .825 OPS in 66 games with LA.
Over the past 4 seasons, he has been one of the most consistent power threats around the league, managing no less than 33 Home Runs in any of these 4 seasons. This will bring some much needed pop to the Padres lineup.
On the defensive side of the ball, he's even better. We've all seen the numerous highlights of Machado throwing across his body from foul territory beyond 3rd base. Not only is his arm one of the best in the league, but he can flash the leather with the best of them too.
A .969 career fielding percentage in 731 games is one of the best in baseball when comparing his number of defensive chances to others at both the hot corner. And Machado's success translates to shortstop as well, where he has a .975 career fielding percentage in 199 games up the middle.
From the Padres perspective, they currently have the best ranked prospect system in the Majors. If a handful of the youngsters pan out as well as they hope, the Padres could be very dangerous a few years down the line. They also had tons of money to spend, and did so on a still fairly young player superstar.
Also, Fernando Tatis Jr plays a role here. If you're wondering who that is, go do a quick google search. He's an up-and-coming shortstop, who could very well be part of the best left-side of the infield in the MLB in the very near future, paired up with Machado.
In Disagreement With The Contract
Manny Machado is not exactly the most well liked individual in baseball, you could say. From stepping on 1st basemen's ankles, to his bat throwing antics, to the whole Red Sox/Orioles fiasco, to him saying hustling to 1st base "isn't really [his] cup of tea." Machado is somewhat of a villain amongst baseball fans, and it will be interesting to see how he interacts with his new team.
Also, $300 million. THREE HUNDRED MILLION. At a point in time where GM's and front offices are backing away from large contracts, veterans are seeing themselves forced out of the game unwillingly, and young stars are being held in the minors to save the team money down the road, we are going to give 1 player $300 million?! We all saw what happened with Stanton's deal. The Yankees got him for basically free because nobody else on earth wanted the burden of that gigantic contract.
The opt out after 5 years is interesting to me as well. The Padres, as I mentioned, have an excellent farm system and should be expected to compete within the next 5 years, but let's say they don't. Rebuilds have failed before, what if this one does. What if it is 5 straight years without playoff baseball, why wouldn't Manny walk and hit free agency again? He'd be 31 years old, still serviceable, and with any luck the contracts in baseball are just going to continue to grow. I obviously get why Manny and his party wanted the opt out, but why would the Padres agree to it?
Machado was expected to be a key cog for the Dodgers playoff push last season, and they gave up a lot to get him for just 66 games. He did not have great numbers there, what's to say he wasn't better suited in Baltimore?
Manny Machado is one of the best players in Major League Baseball today. He can swing it, he can pick it, and he can sure throw it. But knowing the personality perceptions of Machado, and seeing how cheap other free agents have been going for the past 2 or 3 years, can one really justify spending $300 million on a guy who has never even stepped foot in your clubhouse?
I am all for professional athletes getting tons of money. Their teams are making money off of the players, whether it be ticket revenue, apparel sales, TV deals, etc. and thus I feel that the players should be getting a very substantial portion of the revenue in this billion dollar industry.
However, when so many good players are left without contracts and find themselves forced into retirement with this new age approach to baseball free-agency, I do not see how one can justify spending $300 million on one player; regardless of how utterly talented Manny Machado may be.