Let’s not bury the lede here; Manny Machado’s new $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres was by far the biggest news story in baseball on Tuesday. We love our Detroit Tigers, but gussying up some sort of story about them before diving into what Machado’s new contract means for the entire league just doesn’t seem right.
So Machado it is. One of the early storylines that emerged after his contract details were leaked did not come out of San Diego, but rather from another team that was interested in his services: the Chicago White Sox. Executive vice president Kenny Williams dropped the quote of the day, as he and the rest of the White Sox brass spent the day expressing their surprise and disappointment in Machado’s decision, and offering up excuses as to why the supposed main piece of their rebuild — one so important that they went out and acquired his brother-in-law — was able to slip through their grasp.
Ken Williams: “We could not go that $300M level.”— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) February 19, 2019
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.
I’d usually avoid using “stupid,” but when watching the White Sox try to explain the failed pursuit that came up $50 million short of the guaranteed money Machado accepted, they added no real thoughtfulness to the conversation.
It’s one thing to be critical of the Tigers for not committing to Machado, and we’re not. A $300 million contract is a big pill to swallow for a club still working its way through a couple of nine-figure deals turned sour, and though he would certainly help, the Tigers are more than just a Machado away from being World Series contenders. One could say the same about the White Sox, but most outlets — including multiple projection systems — think the Sox are a bit further along in their rebuild. The White Sox also made Machado a priority earlier this winter, yet still came up short.
A brief interlude for Tigers stuff
More on Machado
While we were reveling in White Sox schadenfreude, the rest of the internet was offering up legitimate #takes about Machado’s new contract. SB Nation’s Eric Stephen explained why Machado is perfect for the Padres. The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and ESPN’s Keith Law were similarly positive. Meanwhile, FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan and our friends at Gaslamp Ball spent the day in disbelief.
And FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski (rightly) patted himself on the back for his ZiPS system nailing Machado’s contract.
Manny Machado and the Padres: if we just appointed ZiPS the Dictator of Baseball, we could have saved three months of Ouroboros-shaped drama. pic.twitter.com/6BF7Bk5QaO— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) February 19, 2019
Did Machado fix free agency?
Let’s discuss the “free agent is broken” narrative and the “one-third of the teams are tanking” canard. Just one day after players association chief Tony Clark wickedly called out teams for not trying to justify the cost of a ticket, a low-revenue team without a winning team in six years under its current ownership just spent $300 million on a guy called out as a dirty player and who projects as Ryan Zimmerman with a better glove.
The entire article is rather awful, to be honest, but Bill Baer of Hardball Talk did a lot of the heavy lifting for us (and many others) with his rebuttal. Baseball’s current financial system seems to be broken, and it feels more and more like we are headed for an ugly round of negotiations when the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires.
Actual Tigers things
MLive’s Evan Woodberry looked at the position players in camp, ranked by likelihood of making the team. The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen dove into pitch framing, and how Bobby Wilson could be a mentor of sorts for Grayson Greiner. The 26-year-old Greiner is projected to be an above-average defender this year after a couple of great seasons behind the plate in the upper minors. The Kaleb Cowart experiment is off to a solid start.