After the 2023 season comes to a close, San Diego Padres star Manny Machado is expected to opt out of his contract and hit free agency. It's a gigantic threat to the Pads' window of contention, since Machado's been the unquestioned leader of this team since arriving in 2019.
Outside of a down debut season on the west coast, he's been one of the best players in baseball, too. That's why Los Angeles Dodgers fans celebrated when Machado's decision was revealed in a report from earlier in the offseason.
But not so fast. One of the most dialed in beat reporters out there, Dennis Lin of The Athletic, doesn't think that opt out is the be all, end all for San Diego. And with the way top general AJ Preller's been wheeling and dealing, it's hard to disagree with that belief.
In his most recent piece (subscription required), Lin predicted Machado will remain with the Padres beyond 2023, with the possibility of the six-time All-Star receiving another $300 million contract.
Lin cited a recent occurrence that actually backed up his prediction, too. Machado was seen with owner Peter Seidler at Coors Field in what was a trip to take a look at the Rockies' state of the art locker room (because the Padres have plans to upgrade their digs).
Dodgers fans won't like Padres insider's Manny Machado prediction
Though Machado has largely struggled against the Dodgers for his career (.253 AVG, .760 OPS in 72 games), his presence has elevated the Padres in other ways, most notably their 2022 run to the NLCS (where they defeated the Mets and Dodgers on the way). He hit three doubles, four home runs and drove in seven runs across 12 playoff games.
Any scenario in which the Padres maintain such continuity is a disadvantage for the Dodgers, no matter how bright LA's future appears to be with their up-and-coming prospects and rosy free agency predictions.
Machado spending the rest of his career in San Diego with Fernando Tatis Jr. will keep the Padres a premier destination for free agents while Preller works overtime to secure other talent in the draft, international market, and trade market.
Machado departing in free agency would turn the Padres upside down, because the franchise has learned Tatis Jr. will not be a leader of any kind, nor can he be relied upon to merely show up. They'd pretty much lose their identity and primary motor.
How about this, SD? We'll let you guys win the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes in exchange for Machado skipping town. Deal?