With spring training approaching in the coming weeks, two of the biggest names on the MLB free agent market have yet to sign: Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Machado is coming off of a World Series run with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles, and Harper has spent his entire career with the up-and-down Washington Nationals. There are a few common denominators with these players, the first being that they both expect huge contracts with multiple years. The second and probably the most interesting common denominator is that they both have been sought after by the San Diego Padres.
The Padres are going all in for these players, which is not typical; they have parted with big-name stars in the past years, such as Adrian Gonzalez and James Shields. The Padres have also been in rebuilding mode for multiple seasons, which is another reason why it’s exciting that they are finally willing to go for it. While Machado and Harper both have interests from other teams such as the Yankees, White Sox, Phillies, and Giants, the Padres representatives have met with both stars. The White Sox have offered Machado a seven-year, $175 million contract, and the Yankees are believed to be offering him a seven- or eight-year deal worth around $220 million. The Padres have yet to make an official offer to either Machado or Harper.
The signing of one of these two big names, both who are considered by a lot of people and analysts as top 10 or top 20 players in the league, would help turn the rebuilding Padres into respectable playoff contenders. While the Padres need a lot of help at almost every position, there are a lot of young players on this team with great potential. Outfielder Manuel Margot had a great season last year and is looking to build upon that. One of the top prospects in the MLB farm system last year, Francisco Mejia, is looked upon as having a great upside. Lastly, Padres top prospect, Fernando Tatis Jr., is expected to be on the major league roster at some point in this coming season. The Padres have a great future coming up through the ranks, so no one can blame them for going for it all by trying to acquire Machado or Harper.
The question is, do the Padres want to throw a bunch of money at these two players for the price they will be commanding? Keep in mind, the Padres do have a lot of money invested in both Wil Myers, who signed an extension two seasons ago, and Eric Hosmer, who was signed to an eight-year, $140 million contract last offseason to keep him from re-signing with the Royals.
A lot of speculation suggests that the Phillies are the frontrunners for these players. But the fact that the Padres are even in the running for these high-caliber names is a positive sign for all Padres fans to see.
With baseball season approaching, we will soon know the answer to where Machado and Harper will be playing. Padres fans just have to hope that one of these players will see the bright future of the Padres organization and be willing to be a part of something that could be special.