TAMPA, Fla.— From the start of Manny Machado’s free agency, the Yankees showed little to no interest in the All-Star infielder.
Despite some of the breathless headlines suggesting otherwise, only if the 26-year old fell into their laps at a significantly reduced price — in dollars and years — was he going to become a Yankee.
None of it ever came close to happening.
Instead, Machado will play his 2019 season, and beyond, a world away from the Bronx, agreeing to a 10-year, $300-million deal with the San Diego Padres Tuesday, according to ESPN. According to various reports, Machado can opt out after five years and again test the free-agent market.
Machado agreeing to terms leaves one mega-free agent left, Bryce Harper, whom the Yankees also did not pursue. Indications this week have been Harper is perhaps close to signing a deal with the Phillies — a club that also pursued Machado — though some of that talk cooled Tuesday.
The Yankees did host Machado for a day, which included dinner, in December, but that was a result of the player’s request to visit rather than the club engaging in an all-out recruitment.
When asked for reaction to the Machado report, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, “Until there’s something official, there’s nothing for me to talk about.”
Teams draw a distinction between an agreement subject to a physical and a finalized deal.
Though nothing as of Tuesday was official, that didn’t stop a high-ranking official from one of the teams that was all-in on Machado, the White Sox, from commenting.
“I’m wearing my shades so you can’t see the shock in my eyes,” executive vice president Kenny Williams told Chicago reporters. “If the offer that I’m seeing or the acceptance of the offer that I’m seeing is true, then actually our offer had the opportunity for Manny to surpass that.”
According to MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox offered Machado an eight-year deal worth $250 million, for a higher annual average value.
Machado’s deal, if completed, would be the second-largest in baseball history behind Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325-million deal signed with the Miami Marlins ahead of the 2015 season.
Speaking at spring training in Peoria, Arizona, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said: “We do not have a deal with any free-agent player. We are continuing discussions, and that’s all we have to say.”
However, general partner Peter Seidler, without confirming the deal, said: “Ron and I, we love the city of San Diego, we love sports in San Diego, we’re also well aware of the history. There’s never been a championship ... We as an organization, we want to completely change that. We want our franchise to win year after year after year. And we’re going to do whatever we can rationally do to make that happen.”
Also speaking in Arizona, commissioner Rob Manfred, who along with most MLB clubs have drawn the ire of the players’ union for teams’ overall reticence to spend big this offseason and last, said: “I think that’s a great thing. It’s good for baseball to have big stars present in some of our smaller markets.”
Machado hit .297 with 37 home runs, a career-high 107 RBIs and a .905 OPS for the Orioles and Dodgers last season. The four-time All-Star, who had an eventful October on and off the field — his comments about not being a “Johnny Hustle” type of player quickly became a sensation — is a .282 career hitter with 175 home runs and an .822 OPS in his seven-year career.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway acknowledged that he was “a little” relieved that Machado didn’t land in the NL East and characterized it as a win for players at the end of another slow offseason for free agents.
“It’s good for the players. The players get to sign,” Callaway said. “These guys deserve contracts and it’s fun to get to see them on the field.”
“Seeing him [Machado] and Harper still out there this late, you never know where it’s going to end up,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I guess my take on it is, San Diego signed a really great player.”
The Yankees, of course, spread out their offseason money, bringing in free agents such as J.A. Happ, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, signings that did help push them over the $206-million luxury-tax threshold.
“I think we have a great club,” Boone said. “I think we’re deep. I think all the moves we made address some of the concerns we had. Sitting here last year I felt like we had a really good team, I felt like we had a great opportunity. As I sit here today, I feel like we’re a stronger team based on the moves we made this winter.”
With Tim Healey in Port St. Lucie
Baseball's biggest contracts
1. Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), $325 million for 13 years, signed in 2016
2. Manny Machado (Padres), $300 million for 10 years*
3. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees), $275 million, 10 years, signed in 2008
4. Alex Rodriguez (Rangers), $252 million, 10 years, signed in 2001
5t. Robinson Cano (Mariners), $240 million, 10 years, signed in 2014
5t. Albert Pujols (Angels), $240 million, 10 years, signed in 2012
7. David Price (Red Sox), $217 million, 7 years, signed in 2016
8. Prince Fielder (Tigers), $214 million, 9 years, signed in 2012
9. Max Scherzer (Nationals), $210 million, 7 years, signed in 2015
10. Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks), $206.5 million, 6 years, signed in 2016
* according to reports