Manny Machado Opting Out of Padres Contract After 2023 Season

Manny Machado quieting the crowd New York Post

What are the Padres doing with Manny Machado? The 30-year-old Machado has by far been the Padres’ most consistent and best contributor team has had among a few injury-riddled seasons. Since becoming a Padre in 2019, Machado has had three all-star appearances, won a silver slugger award in 2020, and was NL MVP runner-up in 2022. With all that being said, it seems like a no-brainer that the willing-to-spend San Diego would want to keep their yearly all-star and MVP candidate. However, so far, it looks as though they are barely attempting to retain Machado.

Manny Machado confirmed on Friday, March 17th he plans to opt out of his contract after the 2023 season. The 2020 Silver Slugger award winner signed a 10-year, $300M deal with the Padres before the 2019 season, with an opt-out clause after the 2023 season, in which he could test free agency before the 2024 season. When asked about the opt-out, Machado had this to say:

“Obviously, the team knows where I stand, my situation with the opt-out coming. I think I’ve expressed that I will be opting out after this year, but I think my focus is not about 2024. I think my focus is about 2023, what I can do for this ball club, what I’ve done for this organization, and what we’re going to continue to do here. I think we’ve got something special here growing and I don’t think anything’s going to change.”

The prospect of losing their most consistent and high-producing player is undoubtedly a scary thought. However, there is precedent for an opt-out just to resign with the team for more. Aaron Judge notably refused to resign mid-season with the Yankees, opted out, then returned to the Yankees on a nine-year/$360M deal. However, the Padres organization is certainly not doing its part to lower its fan’s anxiety about the situation. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, in a brief locker room media scrum with Machado, the all-star confirmed he was interested in trying to reach an extension with the team instead of opting out. Manny also confirmed he and his agent gave the Padres a deadline of February 16th to offer an extension, which Machado has this to say on why he chose that specific date:

“I just wanted to focus on baseball. So once the season started, I didn’t want to really continue talking about contracts or the business side of things. I just want to focus on my team and the guys in here and what our goal is — to win a championship. So (Thursday) was our deadline, and after that it was just focus on baseball, going out there and winning.”

Third Baseman Manny Machado fielding ground balls during spring training. Photo credit: Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune

Things only got more interesting from this media scrum, as Machado confirmed reports that the Padres only made an offer two days before Machado’s extension deadline. He then was asked if the reports regarding how much the Padres offered him, allegedly being five years at $21 million a year, were true. Machado had this to say with a big smile about the alleged offer:

“You can write out whatever you want, honestly. I don’t know how you get this information. But write whatever.”

If that offer is indeed true, it’s not the best look for the Padres if they are looking to keep their championship chase alive. 21 million a year, while a lot, is still a 9 million a year discount for Machado, who is currently making 30 million a year. Machado certainly has not shown signs of any decline or regression in his career at all. The Padres had the best seats in the house to witness four of Manny’s best years of his career, so offering him an extension that would have him taking a pay cut shocked many. To put it bluntly, this move from the organization comes off as they have little interest in trying to retain Machado after offering massive contracts to Yu Darvish and Xander Bogarts in the offseason.

Will San Diego let one of their foundational players of the last four years walk away when they feel on the verge of a potential dynasty? Will they swoop in like the Yankees with Judge and make him an offer after all the drama? Either way, the 2024 offseason just got a whole lot more interesting.

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