Could Manny Machado's opt-out funnel Shohei Ohtani to Dodgers?

Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Fans have long known that Padres third baseman Manny Machado would be opting out of his current deal next winter, especially in the wake of his new teammate Xander Bogaerts resetting the market for 30-something infielders back in December.

Machado confirmed the obvious on Friday when he spoke with the media, pre-exercising his opt out and citing the "money out there" as the main driving force.

Hint: there's a lot of it.

Machado exiting stage right on his Padres contract would have significant ripple effects on the free agent landscape, and it could aid the Dodgers in two distinct ways.

As of now, the three known suitors for Shohei Ohtani (outside any Angels interest in bringing him back) are the Dodgers, Padres and New York Mets. No matter which team ends up forking a $300 million contract to keep Machado through his late-30s, the forthcoming deal should leave plenty of room in the Dodgers' budget while denting the other two.

Dodgers more likely to sign Shohei Ohtani after Manny Machado's next contract?

According to MLB insider Jon Heyman's latest, the Padres are more hopeful about bringing Machado back than about saving money to woo Ohtani. There's a good chance, even after Machado's media scrum on Friday, that the two sides meet in the middle on an extension prior to Opening Day next month.

"The Padres, the surprise West Coast version of the Mets, are said to be hopeful that they can lock up Manny Machado before he opts out at the end of the season. At this point, who could doubt them? Machado has thrived in San Diego, where he has bought a home, and there’s some hope they can extend him so he won’t exercise the opt-out in his $300M, 10-year deal. One Angels person suggested he won’t be surprised if the Padres — whose payroll is up to an unthinkable $260M — are even the high bidder for Shohei Ohtani. Though that would be a true shocker, since the huge-market Dodgers and deep-pocketed Mets could easily outbid them, it’s no surprise the Padres will try."

Jon Heyman

If the Padres and Machado can't find common ground, the Mets would certainly seem to be next in line for the soon-to-be 31-year-old. This past offseason, Steve Cohen admitted the team had a "missing piece" on offense and tried to fill it with Carlos Correa, moving him to third base in the process. That deal folded, but Machado would seem to fit the exact same characteristics Cohen coveted a few weeks back.

There has to be some limit to Cohen's madness too, right? Nobody spends like him, but ... $320 million on Machado, followed by $520 million on Ohtani? He wouldn't do that ... would he? He might. But it would be less likely than "only" nabbing one of the two.

Could anyone complicate this plan? Sure. The Yankees could choose to fill their obvious third base void with Machado, but they didn't when he was younger and demanding a lesser contract, so why would they now? Yankees love older, broken-down free agents, yup, answered the question myself, thanks.

The Angels could theoretically come out on top in the Ohtani chase and shock the world, too, revealing a new level of spending and unlocking a new degree of loyalty.

Expectations are that race will come down to three teams, one of which will likely be saddled with Machado's new deal, too. Advantage, Dodgers, for so many reasons.

READ MORE: Dodgers' Most Important Spring Training Question