- Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images
- Manny Machado reportedly received a seven-year, $175 million offer from the Chicago White Sox.
- Machado was initially expected to command around $300 million in free agency, but the expected bidding war for the All-Star third baseman has failed to emerge.
- The lack of interest in signing Machado from teams across the league is typical of baseball’s growing free agency problem.
Baseball’s hot stove hasn’t been all that hot lately.
On the edge of February and with pitchers and catchers reporting now in weeks rather than months, some of the biggest names in baseball remain unsigned.
Manny Machado and Bryce Harper highlight a market packed with talent, with names like Dallas Keuchel, A.J. Pollock, and Craig Kimbrel, also still waiting to sign with their new teams.
These are players that teams looking to compete for a World Series should be clamoring for – All-Star talents that are available to the highest bidder in a league that has no limit to what teams can pay their biggest stars.
But rather than bidding wars between perennial big spenders, it seems the top talents on the market right now have struggled to find even two teams interested in bringing them in for the 2019 season.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Machado’s offer from the White Sox stood at $175 million over seven years.
The White Sox offer to Machado is for $175 million, over seven years. In some ways, their approach is like Boston's w/ J.D. Martinez last winter — the Red Sox offered $100 million and waited for two months. If CWS offer emerges as best, a big ? is: Would Machado/NYY re-engage?
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 16, 2019
While Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, has released a statement calling the White Sox offer inaccurate, the fact that we’ve made it this far into January without a deal being made is proof enough that the market is not as hot as expected.
Machado was projected by many to make at least $300 million in free agency on a potential 10-year deal – $175 million is an impressive bargain for a player who is a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, and just 26 years old.
Simply put, it’s a price that any team in the majors could afford to pay – again, there’s no cap on how much a team can spend – and Machado is a player that would make any team better.
Machado’s case provides a solid explanation of baseball’s free agency problem in general.
In recent years, free agency has bled longer and longer into winter, as teams seem more hesitant to offer big contracts to marquee players, even though franchises are making more money than ever.
Some teams are deciding to Moneyball their way to a title as the Houston Astros did in 2017. Others, such as the Marlins, are openly recognizing that between revenue sharing and television deals, selling tickets and winning games aren’t as necessary to turn a profit as once thought.
In both cases, the end result is a lack of interest from teams when it comes to paying to acquire players that would directly result in putting a better team on the field, which is how you wind up with one of the best third basemen in baseball fielding just one solid offer into the January of his free agency.
Machado is the possible face of a franchise and could be the difference for teams on the cusp of competing for their division, making the playoffs, or even winning a championship.
With a 26-year-old All-Star fielding offers for $100 million less than expected, it’s clear that the MLB needs to figure out a way to fix its free agency system, and fast.