If the Phillies intend on making Manny Machado their splashy off-season acquisition, they may have a new team to contend with.
According to multiple sources aware of talks between the sides but not authorized to speak publicly, the Padres are pursuing the 26-year-old superstar with the intention of playing him at third base.
Macahdo’s agent denied the reports of seven years and $175 million, and it is believed it will take more than that to land the player who over the past four seasons has an .856 OPS and 142 home runs. However, the market is limited, and the Padres are believed to be legitimate suitors.
It’s unclear if San Diego has made an official contract offer to Machado, but their inclusion into the mix could affect the Philadelphia Phillies’ pursuit, to a degree.
A recent report indicated the Padres have been spending much of the past few years getting out of debt left by the previous owner, but that process appears to be nearing an end. San Diego has just $80 million committed to their payroll for 2019, not including pre-arbitration eligible salaries. Their highest priced player is first baseman Eric Hosmer, who they signed to an eight-year, $144 million contract prior to last season, paying him $21 million this season.
Given the money they’re paying Hosmer, it’s likely the Padres would like to add a player who could conceivably help them get back into the postseason while he is still at the beginning of his bloated deal.
The team could deal their second-highest paid player, outfielder Wil Myers, at some point this season, which would free them from the $22.5 million they’re due to shell out to him from 2020-2022. He makes just $5.5 million this season. If they do that, it would leave plenty of payroll space to add a player like Machado, even on a $30 million a year deal.
The Padres’ need for a third baseman has been made well known, and it was rumored back in November that they may be interested in Phils’ third baseman Maikel Franco. Obviously, acquiring Machado would eliminate them as a suitor and could make it difficult for the Phillies to move the 26-year-old elsewhere.
San Diego probably would not be Machado’s preferred destination, given how far they are away from contention. Fangraphs has them projected to go 76-86 in 2019, tied with San Francisco Giants for last in the NL West. However, if they offer the largest contract, he could bite.
While 2019 might be early for a Padres pennant race, the NL West appears to be ripe for the taking in half a decade, and the team has a loaded farm system with which to add to the big league roster or trade for major pieces. In fact, Baseball America put nine Padres prospects in their top 100, tied for the most of any team in baseball (Tampa Bay Rays).
San Diego also could be close to landing another star, the premier catcher in the game to be precise.
At the end of the day, if the Phillies really want Machado, they can easily top any offer the Padres throw his way. The Phils remain in the driver’s seast. The ultimate result of the Padres’ pursuit could simply be forcing the Phillies to pay more than their existing offer.
Whatever that may be.