Manny Machado signs with Padres as Yankee fans wonder why

The San Diego Padres shocked MLB today by signing Manny Machado to a 10 year 300 million dollar contract. Previous estimates had their offer around 250 million over 7 years. The signing poses a number of questions about how we got to these numbers, why would the Pads do this and why would Manny do this? So let’s tackle them one at a time.

The first question is why would San Diego make this type of offer? They aren’t real contenders in the NL and Machado is not going to suddenly make them the favorites, more like a possible wild card contender at best. There are a few factors that brought San Diego here as the high bidder.

First is their current payroll flexibility. On a team devoid of stars, there’s a lot of room to add salary. The teams biggest contract belongs to Eric Hosmer, whose albatross of a deal won’t hurt them until they need to add more payroll in the future. Other than Hosmer and Wil Meyers there are no contractual commitments after the next few years. This gives San Diego the ability to take on Machado’s deal and not worry about the long term ramifications.

Second is the obvious fact that San Diego is never a free agent destination for star players. In order to get their guy an overpay was probably required.

I’m guessing over the next week or so other offers will leak out and the Padres probably bid against themselves for the last 20 million or so of the deal. If this generates additional ticket sales and revenue it may make the back end of the deal worth the likely performance drop off for them.

The final piece is the team’s efforts to draw in a larger latin fanbase over the last few years. Due to their proximity to Mexico, one of their minority owners being a Mexican billionaire, and their strong local Latino population the club feels they have untapped potential to draw more fans from this demographic. While Machado is of Dominican descent, the team Hope’s his arrival along with über prospects Luis Arias and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s ascension will ignite interest in the club. They are currently the 8th most popular team in Mexico and there is a chance for significant revenue increase if they can improve that position.

For Machado taking this offer was a little more clear cut. He wanted the most dollars over the longest contract possible period. Clearly, he and his agent had hoped that one of their preferred landing spots would match the offer but that market never happened.

Manny passed on a chance to compete for championships with the Yankees, play with family and friends with the White Sox, or be a part of an east coast large market team trying to build a true contender in Philadelphia.  I’m not going to pass a value judgment on his priorities, but he clearly made this an economic decision. I’m sure the MLBPA and his agents are ecstatic, as they get to crow about the biggest free agent contract in league history. Cool.

The final question of how we ended up here is easily answered. Machado wanted to play for the Yankees than it was he preferred the east coast, but none of those options materialized. These other teams stuck to their guns on years and/or dollars and left the door open for another team to throw caution to the wind and swoop in with a huge offer. Manny had a choice to make and today he made it. He will spend the next decade (unless he’s moved in a future salary dump) in a pitchers park, on a small market team that hasn’t contended for a championship in decades. Good for him. I guess I did make a judgment on his motivations after all.

Why are the New York Yankees, and all of MLB, sitting out free agency?

We have all seen the headlines “cold stove”, “when will they sign?”, “will there be a labor stoppage?” etc. The gist of most of the articles is that it’s some type of outrage that there haven’t been 10 year/400 million dollar contracts for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, or that Craig “the greatest closer in history” Kimbrel remains unsigned. The reality is it’s THEIR Fault, not the owners. A “cheap” New York Yankees team has emerged as the biggest spenders.

Where are the issues stemming from?

I know when it comes to labor issues we all become part of the proletariat and unite, but at what point does banking on others stupidity as the baseline for your contract become your fault? The pendulum for the power in contracts is swinging back towards equilibrium in baseball and it’s freaking the MLBPA and agents out.

Is anyone enjoying watching Albert Pujols decompose in Anaheim while eating up a huge chunk of the team’s payroll, and that Josh Hamilton deal worked out great too right? Are the Red Sox still paying Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval? How’d the last few years of Arod’s deal work out? Finally, there’s the ghost of Jacoby Ellsbury, may he rest in trainers tape. With those and countless other terrible contracts, I’m confused as to why there’s a mystery as to why teams aren’t interested in long-term big money deals.

Money is earned through consistency:

I know what you want to say “but Manny and Bryce are in their mid-twenties, they’ll produce for the life of their deals” Harper hasn’t consistently had great years the first seven years of his career, do you want to bet 30 million a year on his age 35-37 seasons? Do you want your team paying that much to anyone at that age? As analytics have swept through front offices they’ve finally realized “oh we don’t have to pay superstar salaries to watch these guys circle the drain.” This isn’t collusion, it’s a market correction.

Obviously, prior to free agency, the owners had all the power. Thanks to the reserve clause players were treated, as the great Coop Cooper of the Milwaukee Beers put it, like indentured servants. Then Marvin Miller flipped the script, owners lost their minds and George Steinbrenner of the 1980s happened.

Eventually, though the contracts got out of control and created a small market vs large market issue that threatened competitive balance and the viability of some franchises. Gradually teams started to look for ways to compete on tighter budgets (money ball era A’s, Ray’s earlier in the 2000s etc.) and after seeing their success the smart large market teams began to follow their blueprints. It quickly dried up inefficiencies for teams to exploit but has brought us where we are now.

Why the players are frustrated:

So while I see why players are upset, their arguments sound pretty stupid to me. “Guys that have put up the numbers and produced the way that they have should get long-term deals. I think that’s the way the game always has been. I’m not an analyst; I’m a player. I want players to succeed and get what they deserve.” That’s a quote from Walker Buehler (who hasn’t even had one full good season).  Essentially in the past players would expect a long-term deal based on prior performance, long past when they would still be at that level.  I don’t see how anyone could abide that logic. If you went into your boss and said you wanted a raise, that would be in effect for 10 years but you’d only work at your current level for 3 or 4 they’d think you were insane, but that’s what the MLBPA thinks is right.

I’m sure these players could get the money they want on a 5-year deal, but right now they’re refusing to accept that reality. If they really want to be paid based on the prior season they could sign a one year deal every year but none would do that for fear of injury. That’s what the trade-off has always been, you sacrifice dollars for security. Now the players want both and teams aren’t biting. Do you blame them?

I’m curious to see what deals these players get, and what shape free agency continues to take in the future. I know there are threats from the union about striking over this, it’s hard to see how the public would side with “give us millions while we atrophy over the next decade”. Until then I heard Manny Machado and the Padres had a second meeting, so clearly it’s about winning and not the most money for the longest amount of time.

The New York Yankees Nolan Arenado Rumors Are Blasphemous

New York Yankees, Nolan Arenado

I’ve watched the New York Yankees/Rockies Nolan Arenado trade rumor develop over the last few days and went through various stages of emotion.

Initially I was detachedly bemused at what should have been on a non-story getting legs and starting to spread. Now I realize it’s a microcosm for the new and more often than not terrible state of sports writing on most sites.
I believe it was initially in the Martino article that this idea was first floated. The article stated that “people briefed” on the Yankees thinking said they were interested and were having internal discussions about trading for Arenado.

Is that too vague for you?

If that wasn’t vague enough the next line really grasps at straws “One source says they probably have talked already.” Then the author states he has no confirmation from either side about any of this.

At that point he then takes the unsubstantiated and unattributed rumor and uses it as the linchpin of his article including “Frankly it would be surprising if they haven’t talked by now”. So we’ve created a rumor and used that rumor as the foundation of a piece that then tries to sell you on why said rumor makes sense.

The big networks are engaging in the sensationalism:

Three days later Yahoo, CBS Sports, SB nation and every other sports blog or media site is acting as if this was a real thing and the teams were in active discussions.

First of all, Colorado was a playoff team last year and has aspirations to be one again this year. Unless Arenado tells them he will not come back to Colorado under any circumstance its unlikely they will trade him. The comparisons to Machado’s situation last year do not fit, as Baltimore was a last place team and was dumping their entire roster.

The second thing is that Arenado has expressed a desire to return to the Rockies, an admiration for Todd Helton and Derek Jeter for playing with one team for their entire careers, and an appreciation for what that could do for his legacy. He also has some serious home/road splits and leaving Denver could impact his production as he ages. While he also said he wants to play on a perennial contender, he has not given any sign he thinks Colorado cannot be one.

A realistic point of view:

Finally from a Yankee point of view why would you trade assets for a player you can just sign next year if your that enamored with him?

Also, are we sure his production without playing half his games in Colorado will be that much better than what Andujar (who is 5 years younger and will be 20 million per season cheaper) will offer over the next 5 to 8 years? Wouldn’t the Yankees prefer to sign Machado, who is younger and proven in the AL east over, Arenado and the questions about his transition from obscurity to the sports largest and most intense media market?

Not to mention having to give up Andujar and/or Frazier in likelihood as the centerpiece of the trade. This is exactly the type of trade that Brian Cashman has been refusing to make, why would he go back to it now?

It’s fun to make up trades and talk about then with other fans and your friends. You discuss the pros and cons and try to convince each other that your right. It’s another thing to make up a rumor, or to take it and re-post or link to it with no proof and call it news.

Sources tell me the Yankees are interested in dealing Domingo German for Noah Syndergaard and may have reached out to the Mets front office about it. In the words of Jay from Big Mouth “Your picturing it, were talking about it…that’s a win.”