What Manny Machado’s Huge Padres Contract Means For Red Sox’s Future

Manny Machado reportedly agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday in a move that has ramifications from coast to coast.

The biggest impact, of course, will be felt in Southern California, where the Padres have made a sizable expenditure for the second year in a row. San Diego signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract last offseason, greasing the skids for what the Friars hope will be a return to prominence in the not-so-distant future.

The Machado deal could affect several other organizations, though, including the Boston Red Sox, who are coming off a World Series title in 2018. The Red Sox have multiple prominent players nearing free agency, and Machado’s contract might have just set the bar for future negotiations.

Take the case of Mookie Betts, for instance. Machado hit the open market in early November as a superstar in the prime of his career. Betts, who’s three months younger than Machado, could find himself in the same position after the 2020 season, assuming the reigning American League MVP doesn’t sign a contract extension with Boston in the coming days, weeks or months.

Comparing Betts to Machado isn’t apples to apples. Betts will be 28 when he hits free agency, while Machado will enter the 2019 season as a 26-year-old. Betts also plays the outfield, whereas Machado has spent time at shortstop and third base in his MLB career. But plenty of eyes turned toward Betts after the news of Machado’s deal broke, because he, like San Diego’s new franchise cornerstone, is one of baseball’s premier talents.

Machado’s contract — and whatever deal stud outfielder Bryce Harper winds up signing in free agency this offseason — almost certainly will be mentioned when Betts and the Red Sox sit down at the bargaining table. And it’s fair to assume Betts will be seeking an even larger payday based on his production relative to Machado’s the past few seasons.

Here’s a quick glance at Betts’ numbers vs. Machado’s since the beginning of 2015, a span of four seasons:

Betts: 592 games, 105 home runs, 372 RBIs, 103 stolen bases, .304 average, .370 on-base percentage, .524 slugging percentage, .894 OPS, 134 OPS+, 32.9 WAR (8.2 average)

Machado: 637 games, 142 home runs, 384 RBIs, 43 stolen bases, .284 average, .345 on-base percentage, .511 slugging percentage, .856 OPS, 129 OPS+, 23.2 WAR (5.8 average)

Betts, a three-time All-Star who also finished second in MVP voting in 2016 and sixth in 2017, is an elite player in every sense of the word. He’s a dynamite run producer, a Gold Glove defender and a menace on the base paths. Betts was in line to secure a massive payday regardless of Machado’s deal, but the latter landing a contract with an average annual value of $30 million after such a prolonged free agency bodes well for the Red Sox right fielder’s earnings potential moving forward.

Perhaps the real question is how Machado’s deal impacts Xander Bogaerts’ market. Bogaerts isn’t on Machado’s level — offensively or defensively — but he’s still among the game’s best shortstops and will hit free agency next offseason at age 27. There’s a reasonable comparison to be made, for negotiating’s sake, especially if Bogaerts builds on his breakout 2018 and reaches new heights in 2019.

Here’s a quick glance at Bogaerts’ numbers vs. Machado’s since the beginning of 2015, which is when the former really developed into a solid contributor after a shaky rookie season in 2014:

Bogaerts: 597 games, 61 home runs, 335 RBIs, 46 stolen bases, .295 average, .354 on-base percentage, .446 slugging percentage, .799 OPS, 111 OPS+, 14.3 WAR (3.6 average)

Machado: 637 games, 142 home runs, 384 RBIs, 43 stolen bases, .284 average, .345 on-base percentage, .511 slugging percentage, .856 OPS, 129 OPS+, 23.2 WAR (5.8 average)

Again, Bogaerts isn’t Machado, who’s a better offensive player with more power and elite defensive upside (if he moves back to third base). As things stand, there’s no way he’ll command $300 million in free agency next winter. But Bogaerts’ stock is rising, and Machado’s new contract likely slid the scale upward for a premium shortstop. It also might convince Bogaerts, who has had extension talks with Boston this offseason, to hold off on signing a new deal in the hopes of maximizing his own earnings potential with a strong walk year in 2019.

Basically, the Red Sox have some tough contractual decisions coming up. Navigating those waters becomes even more difficult when you take into account the impending free agencies of pitchers Chris Sale and Rick Porcello and the possibility of J.D. Martinez — another elite offensive performer — opting out of his contract after the 2019 season.

Ultimately, Machado’s contract with the Padres might have little bearing on the deals the Red Sox dole out over the next couple of years. The $300 million mark — $30 million annually on average — sure jumps off the page, though, especially in light of how long Machado’s free agency dragged on.

Don’t be surprised if there’s a ripple effect across Major League Baseball. Players, teams and agents all have taken notice of what just happened out West.

Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images

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