The Manny Machado sweepstakes was as long as the ending was unpredictable.
Who would have guessed back in November the superstar infielder would wind up with the small-market, rebuilding Padres, and his journey would take until the third week in February to reach its climax?
Finally, Tuesday afternoon, after months of speculation, rumors of mystery teams and underwhelming offers, the 26-year-old, four-time All-Star settled on a new home, agreeing to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres, The Post confirmed.
The deal is the biggest free-agent contract in history, surpassing Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million contract signed with the Yankees before the 2008 season. Machado met with the Yankees, White Sox and Phillies during the lengthy process, but only the Padres met his $300 million guaranteed request.
Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told The Athletic the two sides were “continuing discussions” as Machado had yet to pass his physical and there was still language in the deal that had to be hammered out. But there were multiple reports suggesting the final contract was a formality,
The Yankees were his preference, according to a variety of reports, and he does have a close relationship with Rodriguez. But the Yankees never made a formal offer despite hosting him at the Stadium, choosing to spread the money around to infielders Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu and relievers Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino.
Unlike the Yankees, the White Sox went all out for Machado. They signed his brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, and close friend Jon Jay, and left open a spring-training locker for Machado between the two. But their offer of eight years and $250 million, according to The Athletic, couldn’t get it done. The deal had incentives that would’ve pushed it over $300 million, but Machado chose San Diego’s fully guaranteed offer instead.
“I’m wearing my shades so you can’t see the shock in my eyes,” Chicago executive vice president Kenny Williams told reporters.
Many had pegged the Phillies as the favorites, ever since owner John Middleton said his team was willing to spend “stupid money” this offseason. There was even talk of the Phils trying to sign both Machado and Bryce Harper, the other megastar free agent, who remains unsigned. But the Phillies were unwilling to pony up for Machado.
“If the reports are true, this contract will exceed our valuation,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told Philadelphia reporters. “Sometimes you have to walk away.”
Over his first seven years in the big leagues, Machado has been one of the game’s best players, 13th in the sport in home runs (168) and ninth in doubles (203) since 2013. He’s won two Gold Gloves and helped the Dodgers reach the World Series last October after being traded to Los Angeles by the Orioles.
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SOURCE: The New York Post, by Zach Braziller