Praise the Baseball Gods! A big free agent has signed! Manny Machado is taking his talents to San Diego to play for the Padres. The terms of the deal are reported to be for 10 years and $300 million dollars, the largest free agent contract in American sports history. At least until Bryce Harper signs with somebody (please do it soon, Bryce). Machado is certainly happy getting paid, but how will his new team fair in the years to come?
The Friars have certainly beefed up their lineup. Machado is an instant upgrade over their shortstop and third basemen from last season (he says he’ll be going back to 3rd for the Padres). The players who manned those positions last season were Freddy Galvis at short, and a mix of Corey Spangenberg, Christian Villanueva, Chase Headley, and Wil Myers, Carlos Asuaje, and Rafael Lopez. Before taking a peek at the stats it’s obvious that Machado will bring stability to the hot corner along with his superior ability. These seven players combined to offer a .236 average, 39 home runs, a .689 OPS, and 4.7 WAR. Machado batted .297, with 39 bombs, a .905 OPS, and 5.7 WAR. Add the fact that his third base defense is markedly better than at short, at least according to metrics, and Machado’s WAR upgrade likely increases. Perhaps his power dips in the marine layer of PETCO Park, but he’s still going to put up very good numbers in San Diego.
Does the addition of Manny Machado put the Padres in the NL West or Wild Card conversation? The short answer is no. They still lack pitching depth of any kind. They do have plenty of money to burn and could snag a Dallas Keuchel to anchor their rotation. But this puts Joey Lucchesi (4.08 ERA in 2018) to likely the number two slot in that rotation that features Luis Perdomo (7.05 in only 12 appearances) and Robbie Erlin (4.21). With the state of Padres pitching, the addition of Machado doesn’t move them up in the NL West hierarchy much. It’s still arguable that the Diamondbacks are going to be better in 2019.
But Machado’s ten year contract is certainly more than 2019. This team with its wealth of top prospects, albeit nearly all position players, is built to contend for division titles down the line in 2021 and beyond. That does depend on how the organization can develop pitching, which isn’t a great track record, or if AJ Preller can bring in pitching through free agency or trades. The Padres’ ability to do that will be a major factor in how successful they will be with Manny Machado in tow.