Let’s light this offseason on fire.
In the words of Matt Provenzano, the owners think you’re stupid.
While year-after-year Major League Baseball revenue trends upward, payrolls sit in a continuous line, with these last two offseasons being the best evidence. This all comes at a time where quite possibly two of the best free agents of recent memory in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are on the open market.
Let the truth be known. Every team can afford contracts to the likes of what Machado and Harper are demanding. And while a stagnant stove has the prospects of their future mega-deal likely trending downwards, there really isn’t an excuse for any team to sit on their hands on watch them sign for some deal that falls under their value.
With that being said, some teams can only make a better case for signing generational talents to long-term deals more than their competitive others.
The Yankees? Why not build baseball’s equivalent to a super-team.
The White Sox? Pair a bonafide star with one of the game’s top farm systems and see what can happen a couple years down the road.
If Machado and Harper were to net that eight, ten, or twelve-year deal (whatever you want to call it) that they deserve, then no team can pull a contention timeline excuse. That’s what makes these free agent cases so interesting. Essentially all 30 teams have a place for them.
With that intro over, I’ll get to the admittedly attention-grabbing headline that brought you hear.
As I mentioned above, there are teams that can make a better case than other teams for signing Harper of Machado. Pick whichever one you want, there are some aesthetically pleasing fits in there for an array of different reasons. But perhaps my favorite fit for them is the Padres. You heard that right. Why? Well, as from a viewpoint of the players, it *may* not just be the sunny skies and sandy beaches that lure lucrative free agents here.
There is an actual baseball-related appeal to the Padres. While no stranger to the basement of the NL West, they do have one of the better farm systems of recent memory, just yesterday placing nine prospects in Baseball America’s annual top 100, which tied a record for the publication.
With that, they easily have one of the better future outlooks of any team in baseball. They may have already developed a core without the help of free agent spending in names like Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Mejia, MacKenzie Gore, Luis Urias, Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Josh Naylor, etc, etc. Add that in with players that already have major league experience in Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot, Franmil Reyes, Joey Lucchesi, Dinelson Lamet, Jose Castillo, and Matt Strahm.
And the financial argument from the Padres side ends quickly when you consider how affordable these deals actually are for owners in this current state of profitable baseball.
For the sake of the argument, let’s assume the Padres sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for an added $60 million AAV for how many ever years. Using current 2019 payrolls as referencing, let’s see where that would put the Padres among the rest of the crowd.
Adding $60 million worth a payroll would for sure make them take a big jump (25th to 11th for 2019), no doubt. But this is nothing outlandish, just sitting right above league-average.
The Padres payroll has exceeded $100 million a couple times before though and it’s also worth mentioning that they drew a higher average attendance than 2017, which was a record-setting year for them revenue-wise. Again, they can afford this. This hypothetical scenario obviously let’s you have a greater amount of success on and off the field. With the added wins, I think it would be safe to expect once again record-setting revenue in 2019. Attendance would surely see a big spike.
You could go on and on about the beneficial adds that signing two of the best free agents in the history of this game at their primes would do to a franchise, but the argument would probably be for nothing. This hypothetical scenario remains unlikely. Mentioned as a dark-horse suitor for both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, it still seems possible that one of them could be playing for the Padres next year. But in a time of collusion questions, the business ethics of this game reaching a scary point, and well-deserved free agents signing below-market value deals, a big splash by a team would be appreciated. I can’t think of better team to do so than the Padres.