The San Diego Padres on Tuesday signed free agent shortstop Manny Machado to the largest free agent contract in baseball history, giving the former Orioles and Dodgers player ten years and $300 million.
Even though the Padres have not traditionally been a team that’s known for spending a lot of money, they were willing to hand out that sum to Machado. One report Tuesday, from Jon Heyman via Twitter, stated that San Diego was not “ruling out” adding the season’s other top free agent, Bryce Harper, as well.
However, another top national baseball reporter, Bob Nightengale, said the opposite in a tweet Tuesday night, that after signing Machado, the Padres “are bowing out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.”
Nightengale added that the Padres were “ecstatic” about the addition of Machado. On the Harper front, he said that the Philadelphia Phillies “remain the frontrunner” to sign Harper, with the San Francisco Giants in the picture as well.
As for the Phillies, their general manager, Matt Klentak, told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, via Twitter, that the team had pursued Machado but that, in Klentak’s words, “if the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.”
A story in The Athletic expanded on this, noting that the Phillies were adamant with Machado’s agent that they would not exceed $300 million for the shortstop. “We’re really happy for Manny. We like the player,” Klentak added.
Matt Klentak, sources said, had been adamant with Manny Machado's agent: The Phillies would not go to $300 million.
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticPHI) February 19, 2019
“We will continue to proceed with other free agents that make sense for this franchise,” Klentak said, per The Athletic. “We have to remember that there will be other free agents after this offseason. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future to spend money and to make our team better.”
This was interpreted by some as a reference to Mike Trout, the superstar player with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who is two years away from free agency. Trout is a native of Southern New Jersey, grew up rooting for the Phillies, and frequently appears at Philadelphia Eagles games. Trout said at spring training this week, per CBS Sports, that he’s been asked repeatedly this offseason when he might be signing with his hometown team.
A contract for Harper, a huge amount of money for as long as 10 years, might preclude the Phillies from signing Trout or another superstar player in the future, and may very well put the team in position to pay baseball’s “competitive balance” luxury tax.