At long last, one of baseball’s best free agents has signed with a team. Manny Machado, last seen striking out to lose the World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be taking his talents to...San Diego?
This is a shock to the baseball world. Free agents of Machado’s caliber tend to sign with big market teams who have the cash to pay them and the potential to make the playoffs consistently. The San Diego Padres are a small market team who finished dead last in the National League West last year. The Padres haven’t even made the playoffs since 2006. They are not exactly known for signing big-name free agents. I can only name about three players on their team right now, and all of them made names for themselves in other cities. If you don’t follow baseball, you might not even know the Padres exist.
That being said, I actually love this signing for the Padres. They have not had a face of the franchise since Tony Gwynn retired in 2001. Machado’s deal for $300 million over ten years is a lot, but he’s a bonafide stud. He hit for .297 last year with 107 RBIs and 37 HRs. Machado can also play two positions, shortstop and third base, and he’s a Gold Glove winner at both. He instantly makes the Padres a much better team. Any contract for ten years can look daunting, but Machado is only 26. His production will likely decline once he gets into his mid-30s, but I don’t see it dropping off a cliff anytime soon.
Here’s the catch: Machado has a reputation as a jerk. There are countless YouTube videos of him getting into arguments with opposing players that lead to bench-clearing scuffles. He’s been known to spike fielders as he tags bases. He’s not exactly the guy you want setting a role model for your kids. Machado has been labeled as “dirty” by lots of players and analysts throughout his career. Fans of other teams actively cheer against him.
I don’t like Machado either, for the record. I don’t like how he plays, his attitude, or his face. I wouldn’t want him on my team. But if my team were the Padres, I definitely would. Machado will have his incidents, but he brings the Padres the one thing they haven’t had in a long time: relevancy. Being a fan of a team people hate can be frustrating, but it’s infinitely better than being a fan of a team no one ever talks about. Machado gets people talking about baseball in San Diego for the first time in a long time.
On the field, the Padres finally have a player to build around. Years of sub- par baseball have given them a lot of good picks in the draft. Just look at the Houston Astros. They went from annual doormat to annual contender by build- ing through the draft and signing key free agents to fill holes. They won the World Series in 2017. The Padres have been trying since 1969, but have never won a championship. This signing is a great first step toward relevancy and future playoffs for San Diego.
Contact Teddy Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.