The Chicago White Sox hopes were dashed on Tuesday as free-agent Manny Machado agreed to term with the San Diego Padres on a 10 year 300 million dollar deal.
MLB Insider Jeff Passan reported the signing Tuesday as the Machado will sign the biggest free agent contract in sports history. Missing out on Machado is a historic blow for several reasons for the White Sox with the potential to historically define the franchise for generations.
Throughout the winter, the White Sox were seen as the clear favorite to land Machado as they were seen as offering the most money with a deal more so tied up due to option years. Having the second lowest payroll in all of baseball, many believed the team was capable of taking on a max contract for a top-tier free agent.
Rumors swirled that a deal would range anywhere from seven to nine years for 225 million to 280 million. MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal stated the White Sox offer was for eight years for 250 million with incentives up to 100 million more. General manager Rick Hahn was quoted as saying that money would not be an issue this offseason.
The difference between the deal that was accepted and the deal that was beat was 2 years and 50 million guaranteed. It appears that the White Sox goal was to get the most for their offer by using a carrot on a stick for a proven player. Guaranteed money will always win over incentivized money is because the future is never for certain.
With the Padres outbidding the White Sox to sign Machado, it confirms all the negative perceptions that have surrounded the team during the Jerry Reinsdorf ownership. The perception that the team, although in the third biggest market in the country, operates like a small market team is legitimate. Fans will now be reconfirmed in their belief that Reinsdorf is “cheap” when it offering big contracts to free agents. The worse realization is that the White Sox will not be able to compete for premier free agents for years to due to a financial ceiling.
On the field, Machado would have provided the team with a superb defensive glove at either third base or shortstop as he has won multiple Gold Glove awards in his short career. Offensively, he is a perennial 30+ home run hitter, 100 RBI, and .+300 who would have been a prominent middle of the lineup bat. Overall for the team, he would be a consistent All-Star and a potential MVP candidate for years to come.
What Machado would have meant to the organization off the field would have been more valuable than what he would have immediately offered the franchise on the field. It would have given the White Sox a top-five player with national recognition and marketability. He would have both local and national endorsement where the team would have gotten free publicity.
A signing would have been an investment rather than an expenditure as Machado being on the team would have increased ticket sales, nationally televised games, and an expanding young fan base. The White Sox would have been able to grow their franchise especially with the team developing young talent that could become one of baseball’s best for several years to come. It takes a premiere talent to spark that interest in a team on the rise whether it be Jon Lester to the Chicago Cubs or Marian Hossa to the Chicago Blackhawks.
From a local standpoint, a big signing would have tremendously large from a rivalry standpoint with the Cubs. The Cubs could not have had a worse off-season as they were nearly dormant in signing or trades to improve the team. There were several negative stories including Addison Russell, Joe Ricketts, and the move to a Cubs network which would cost fans money to watch. All in all, a Machado signing would have been the perfect retribution and clap back for the White Sox against their rival who has owned the city since 2015. It could have possibly lead to a fan base shift in the city also.
Losing out on arguably the best free agent is worsen by the fact the White Sox lost out to a team that is in the exact same situation as they are. The Padres are also in a rebuild and have the third lowest payroll in baseball. San Diego has the highest rated farm system in all of baseball with Chicago being in the top five. Had they lost out to the Yankees, Dodger, or Red Sox it would have been easier to deal with because of those teams high payrolls.
The front office will have to own the failure of not signing Machado this season and possibly seasons to come. The last three World Series winning teams were built through rebuilds with young players, but also made the necessary “big free agent signing” when it was needed. The White Sox must realize that for them to change the way their franchise is received and perceived by both players and fans they need to be able to spend on free agent talent. They failed to do so with Machado and deserve the negative feedback that has followed because they fell short when it mattered the most.