About 12:30 p.m. today, a large crack in the Chicago White Sox universe opened up:
Manny Machado's deal, as @Feinsand first reported, is for 10 years and $300 million with an opt-out after the fifth season.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 19, 2019
A monumental deal -- the single biggest free agent contract in American sports history.
And now every eye in baseball turns to Bryce Harper. His move.
larry was quick to post the awful news, and let’s address that, first.
There is no possible interpretation of what apparently went down over these past few days with Manny Machado as anything less than catastrophic to the future of the Chicago White Sox.
A major-market, American League (DH-capable) team, with boundless money to spend (more on that later), lusting after him for two years now, fails to deliver the goods.
We can gobble as many sour grapes as we want:
- albatross contract
- Johnny No-Hustle
- the White Sox were used
- still, great to be at the table, fellas [grin]
- [insert exec/owner name here] sucks
- stick with youth
If you’re down with any of these notions to rationalize the colossal failure of today’s development, look hard in the mirror, because you’re fooling yourself.
No system, even that of the vaunted Padres, can fill all gaps. With trade markets seemingly dead this offseason, free agency was the way to go. Machado, with zero third base prospects in the upper pipeline who can be counted on for the White Sox, was the fit — not Bryce Harper, or Dallas Keuchel, or Craig Kimbrel.
The White Sox needed this. Nolan Arenado has been an enticing name for fans, but with Machado’s deal setting the market, no way Colorado lets him get away. So pack that one in dry ice.
It’s Luis Curbelo Watch 2025, baby!
The good news is that there was still a way to spin this that’s not so bad for the White Sox.
Unfortunately, the utter fumble of a financial negotiation bats such a notion right down.
If Machado had truly preferred San Diego, or the NL, or just didn’t want to be in the spotlight and preferred to be Johnny Siesta instead of Johnny Hustle, OK. It sucks to be left at the altar, but fine, good riddens, you jagoff.
But that’s not what happened. The White Sox offered eight years and $250 million guaranteed, per Ken Rosenthal — $31.25 million per season.
The Padres offered 10 years and $300 million — $30 million per season.
Catbird seat, right? Nibble at the corners, shift a few incentives, and welcome to Camelback, Manny, right?
But then ...
Ken Williams: “We could not go that $300M level.”— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) February 19, 2019
Everyone championing the White Sox bid as the better one, whether for the bigger AAV or supposed “incentives” that could have “maxed out” the contract at $350 million, get outta here.
If you WANT the guy, pay the guy.
If you want the guy, PAY the guy.
IF YOU WANT THE GUY, PAY THE GUY!
So, you’ll go 8/250 but not 10/300? It makes zero sense. This isn’t a bargain-basement extension for José Abreu that you can load up with beyond-belief incentives to turn a 3/50 into a possible 5/100.
Rick Hahn called the White Sox offer “superior to what was offered ... in certain ways,” which is technically true. Disingenuous, but true.
This is future Hall-of-Famer Manny Machado, at the prime of his career. Plays every game. Capable of an average shortstop, the second-toughest defensive position on the field, and an otherworldly third, no small potatoes, either. Hits the bejeezus outta the ball.
Beyond even that, San Diego’s contract has a player option after five years. If Manny is a Hall-of-Famer, and baseball’s salary structure continues to shoot northward — neither being locks, but both safe bets, the Padres just gave Manny not 10/300, but 5/150.
As larry pointed out in one of eight gajillion comments on his breaking story, among all the “incentives” offered Manny, initially we didn’t know whether any sort of option was in the White Sox deal. Given the differences between the Chicago and San Diego offers, I’d say it wasn’t — certainly not a player option-only.
Lo and behold, by evening, we learned via Bruce Levine that no, there wasn’t any sort of option, mutual or otherwise, in the White Sox offer. Further, the White Sox “don’t believe” in them, a fact that probably took them out of Machado or Harper bidding from the get-go.
So the White Sox, for all their pride at being “at the table,” behaved like they were at the kids’ table.
And while there’s a possibility that Manny didn’t give the White Sox a chance to match or beat San Diego’s offer, that runs counter to the logic that has kept him out of uniform into the start of spring training. Of course the White Sox could have matched or beaten — they simply chose not to.
The notion that Ken Williams was “shocked” at Machado’s decision, and needed to wear his shades to cover up his emotions, that’s pure eyewash, a Michael Scott-level of bad acting.
Worst yet — and to be fair, we haven’t gotten any breathless, craftless, 10,000-word “oral histories of the Machado signing” yet so we don’t really know if this bottom is the true bottom of the story — was Williams’ rationalizing of his club’s “spending cap” of $299.999,999.99 million.
Williams on the Padres going to $300 million: "That level wasn't feasible to us because we still have to project putting together a total winning roster and keeping the young players that will ultimately earn into greater dollars themselves."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) February 19, 2019
Williams put his undercutting of a Machado offer off on young guys who are busy getting their service time manipulated in the minors (e.g. Eloy; the real lucky ones don’t even know that they’re good enough to have their service time manipulated, yet).
Thus at least part of the rationalization for not signing Machado is that one day, the White Sox may need to pay younger players big money (at this point, no earlier than 2025). And presumably, some of them will be run off by management in Chris Sale-fashion before then.
However the White Sox get sassed on this site, personally I’ve always been inclined to defend the team. First, they’re my team, so of course I’ll see sunshine before clouds. Second, some of the criticisms of the players, ownership, performance tends to get out of hand and, at least until the start of this decade, was driven by sheer media bias in the city.
Today, well, it’s an embarrassing day to be a White Sox fan. Not a Sale-scissorsing embarrassment, or an Adam Dunn contract choke, or an Ozzie-expletiving way. That stuff is just the cost of doing business, in my book. This development today is like getting beaten up by your little brother, in a fight that was over before it began.
The White Sox had no business being outbid by anyone for Machado. That the Padres did so, the freaking win-nothing, criminal-GM, nothing-market Padres — it’s hard to bear.
“We should be proud of the aggression and creativity of our offer,” Hahn said today. Huh.
Most of us will continue to watch, cheer, hope. Shooting to avoid another 100 losses is something, right? But watching the team you love crumble or cave before your eyes is going to be very, very hard to forget.