The Future Starts Now for Machado-led Padres

The San Diego Padres surprised the baseball world on Tuesday, February 19 on news that free agent infielder Manny Machado was set to sign a 10-year, $300 million contract with the team. The contract, which includes a player option after five years, has not been confirmed by the Padres pending Machado passing a physical.

The Padres have seemingly been in perennial rebuild mode since 2014. That seemed to change last year when the club surprisingly signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to a multi-year $144 million contract. Prior to the Machado signing, the Hosmer signing was the largest contract ever offered by the Padres. 

The Hosmer signing was one example of the Padres seizing an opportunity. The Machado signing takes their rebuild to another level.  “There’s different ways to build a club…,” remarked General Manager A.J. Preller, “… if the right guys are out there, guys that fit in the long-term plan, we want to add the right piece at the right time.”

Many baseball teams are seemingly committed to a cookie cutter approach that sets aside an “appropriate” time for winning based on analytics. The Padres seem willing to accelerate their process by capitalizing on the opportunity to add a player who, at 26 years old, will be in his prime as the Padres prepare to introduce a young core that will include shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. and second baseman Luis Urias. 

When asked about the timing of the Machado signing, executive chairman Ron Fowler remarked, “There’s no perfect timing…But there’s not talent out there that becomes available every year that’s as good as what we think is there now.”

Machado has played five full seasons in the big leagues after making his debut with the Baltimore Orioles in August of 2012. The perennial All-Star and multiple Gold Glove Award winner has also proven to be a durable player. In the last four seasons, Machado has missed just 11 games. 

Unquestionably, the coveted talent of Machado makes the Padres better. However, for the Padres to truly change the balance of power in a highly competitive N.L. West, they will have to address questions in their starting rotation. But that seems to be a decision the Padres are content to leave for a future date. For now, the Padres are looking to lock in a talent like Machado and let him and Hosmer ease the transition for their young talent.

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