Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado and the free agent market
By Tim Smart
Remember when Manny Machado was supposed to get one of the biggest free-agent contracts in MLB history? Why isn’t the market working for the former Baltimore Orioles superstar?
Manny Machado isn’t coming back to the Baltimore Orioles, especially not at the price he’s asking for. Entering the 2018-2019 offseason, it was assumed that the former Orioles shortstop / third baseman would get a deal somewhere in the 10-year, $300 million range.
But the way the free-agent market has played out so far, it looks like Machado could get significantly less than his asking price.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Chicago White Sox had offered Machado a deal worth 7-years and $175 million.
Manny Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, was critical of Olney and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggesting that the White Sox offer was on the table, calling it “inaccurate and reckless”. You can get Lozano’s full statement here, but he’s essentially upset about the 7/$175 being well under the actual negotiating terms, and that reporting it as such is detrimental to Machado’s position in the market.
I’m not sure that 7/$175 is the actual offer; if I’m guessing, it’s not. But even suggesting that it would be so low feels like crazy talk.
Machado is one of the best players in MLB right now. He’s just 26 and is coming off a career year in which he posted a .905 OPS and a 141 wRC+. He’s amassed 30.2 fWAR in seven seasons, has a career .822 OPS and hasn’t hit fewer than 33 homers in a season since 2014.
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It feels like I’m missing something. Sure, Machado has the alleged attitude problem but I like that he plays with a chip on his shoulder; it adds to his profile.
The bigger issue seems to be that MLB organizations don’t necessarily have to field good baseball teams to make money. Machado would make every team in baseball better, in one way or another. But since teams don’t have to be successful to be profitable, they see limited benefit in spending the requisite money to acquire someone of Machado’s stature.
There are fewer than five teams in baseball who wouldn’t benefit from having Manny Machado on their roster. Houston and Cleveland have two of the best SS/3B combinations in baseball, and Colorado has Nolan Arenado. Machado would be an upgrade for every other major league roster.
The Baltimore Orioles certainly aren’t going to be in on Machado this winter, but they could bring him back if they wanted to; money is the only barrier. And if Machado is going to sign for less than $200 million, they probably should; he’s worth every penny.
As long as teams aren’t spending money on veteran free-agents, there’s going to be trouble in baseball. MLB’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, and if things keep going in the direction they are right now we might be in line for a work stoppage. No baseball fan wants that.
Players drive revenues in baseball, not owners. Players deserve their share of those revenues, and they’re seemingly not getting them right now. Manny Machado is worth $300 million, but he probably isn’t going to get it. That’s a problem that baseball needs to fix, and sooner rather than later.