In terms of off-season’s splashes, put the Padres’ effort down as a cannonball.
The Padres shocked baseball by landing Manny Machado this week and is it all true? How did a franchise which once squeezed nickels find the gumption to write a 10-year, $300 million contract for one player?
What’s clear is these are no longer your father’s Padres. The gutty little squad living in the shadow of the Dodgers has flipped. No longer content with one flop after another — the Padres haven’t had a winning season in eight straight years — San Diego moved into the high-rent district with Machado.
Machado is pricey and there’s a reason or two. At 26, he’s entering his prime and that’s after notching at least 33 homes in his last four years.
Considering the Padres delivered a $144 deal to Eric Hosmer before the 2018 season, San Diego’s expenditure of $444 in consecutive offseason is more than they had spent in the previous 25 combined.
What makes Machado’s pact an eye opener is it skews what has long been the Padres’ plan of being patient until say, 2020 or 2021, when their talented youngsters had earned their stripes and were ready to compete.
But that slow walk to relevancy became a sprint. Clubs don’t dish out dough to the degree the Padres did to Machado and not expect accelerated results.
Which could mean the Padres aren’t done retooling a roster which lost 97 games last year. That’s because the flashing light of danger with a rotation long on potential and short on experience isn’t a mirage.
If the Padres are going to make a run at the Dodgers and try to prevent them from winning their seventh straight NL West title, there’s still work to be done.
But what’s just started is a Padres buzz which was hard to ignore when word trickled out that Machado spurred the Chicago White Sox and signed the richest free-agent pact in baseball history.
Dealing is what Padres general manager A.J. Preller will keep doing until the opening day bell rings on March 28 and likely after that. Preller, an Encinitas resident, will likely scour an impressive list of available pitchers in what’s been — save the Machado transaction — a tepid free-agent market.
Preller could also shed some of the youngsters that made the Padres’ farm system the envy of nearly everyone else. Those prized kids can bring back a haul and after backing up the U-Haul to Machado’s vault, it’s no time to get timid now.
Machado arrives right when prized rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. is nearly ready to debut, which should take care of the left side of the infield. The right side will lean toward veterans in Ian Kinsler and Hosmer.
It’s a formidable collection of players and when was the last time a Padres fan was overheard saying that?
Machado talks, too, and he told everyone within earshot he’s no “Johnny Hustle.” That was in response for Machado’s propensity to not run hard on routine grounders, even in the postseason.
He also spoke volumes with antics that didn’t endear him to his competitors. Machado was fined $10,000 by Major League Baseball when it decided he tried to injure Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. His Milwaukee teammate, National League MVP Christian Yelich, said Machado was a “dirty” player.
Will Machado change his mojo after snagging a $300 million guarantee? Not likely and the Padres were aware of any possible package before dropping that load of lettuce on the four-time All-Star.
What’s food for thought is “Manny World” landing in San Diego as America’s finest city now has North America’s most expensive free agent.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports