By Sam Bush
One of the two big MLB free agent fish has been caught.
And now there is only one: Bryce Harper.
Manny Machado has agreed to the biggest free-agent contract in American sports history — a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, ESPN’s Jeff Passan is reporting.
Machado, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, made $16 million between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles last season.
The deal with the Padres includes an opt-out after the fifth season, sources told Passan.
The 26-year-old slugger posted a career-high .905 OPS in 2018, finishing the season with a .297/.367/.538 slash line, 37 home runs, 107 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. In 66 regular-season games with the Dodgers, Machado hit .273 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs.
San Diego, which has missed the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons, ranked 28th in the majors last season after averaging just 3.8 runs per game.
Machado has hit 30 home runs in each of the past four seasons; only Wil Myers (2017) has surpassed that mark for the Padres during that span. And only six times in Padres history has a player hit more home runs in a season than Machado did in 2018.
The Padres have now spent $474 million in free agency over the past two seasons — tops in the majors. Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million deal last offseason.
As a comparison, San Diego had spent a combined $309 million in free agency over the previous 25 seasons, which ranked 27th in the majors.
The Phillies, Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees had also been considered as teams in the running to sign Machado.
Machado spent most of this past season at shortstop, his preferred position, and produced the third-worst Defensive Runs Saved total (minus-13) among the 22 players with enough innings to qualify at that spot. The 26-year-old played a better shortstop upon joining the Dodgers, which gave up five minor leaguers to acquire him from the Orioles on July 18, but his 15-week stint in L.A. was tumultuous.
The former No. 3 overall pick drew incessant criticism for constantly loafing up the first-base line, then fanned the flames when he told Fox Sports during the postseason that hustling is “not my cup of tea.”
“He got booed in Baltimore three weeks before we traded for him,” the Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman said at the general managers meetings on Nov. 6. “It’s not like it was a secret. … I think there are other times where guys do it and they really do care. And by care, I mean the effort they put into their work, the type of teammate they are, and Manny checks all those boxes.”
Machado had several big moments with the Dodgers, several of them while the team was fighting for a sixth-consecutive division title in September and a few more during a victorious NL Championship Series. But he hit just .182 in the World Series, committing the final out as the Boston Red Sox won the championship.
Machado was limited to 82 games in 2014, but he has played at least 156 games in each of the past four seasons. He has hit at least 30 home runs and 30 doubles in each of those four seasons, making him one of just two players, along with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, to reach both of those marks every season since 2015.
He has compiled 29 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement since his first full season in the majors in 2013, tied with Joey Votto for sixth among position players since then. Only Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Bettsand Jose Altuve have a higher WAR in that six-year stretch.