Potentially the biggest free agency period in a long time, both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are out to get their biggest paycheck ever. While Harper looks to be remaining in the National League, according to the rumor mill, Machado has been playing both sides of the fence since his 2018 season ended by striking out to Chris Sale as the final batter in the World Series.
Flash forward to now, and there still has not been any headway made for either free agent starlet, but the pieces are somewhat beginning to align themselves for a decision to happen soon.
According to many reports, the White Sox have offered Machado a deal worth $175 million over a seven-year stretch. While any such deal has been denied by Machado’s agent Dan Lozano, it is fair to assume that these reports, which have come from the likes of Buster Olney and Bob Nightengale, are credible and that this is on the table.
The want to not go into the public eye with the deal specifications is quite easy to see, as if a year and money amount are released, then other teams will know exactly what they have to beat in terms of bargaining.
Hypothetically, if this is the deal that Machado was to go with, would it actually improve the White Sox that much? In theory no, but that is more based on his supporting cast.
At the moment, the White Sox’s highest paid player is first baseman Jose Abreu, who is pulling in $16 million in his age-32, arbitration-three season. Abreu is the lone White Sox player to have a salary in the $10+ million range, as all other players are all $9.1 million and below.
Machado’s deal, which would rival Harper’s in terms of length and value, would only add $25 million to the team’s salary if he agreed to what is currently on the table. The Sox payroll would finally jump over $100 million, as Machado’s deal would put them just above $105 million, still towards the bottom in terms of American League spending.
But with the current low salaries comes with it the lower talent level, something that Machado would have to be alright with. Not as bad as his days in Baltimore playing with the slumping Chris Davis’ and Trey Mancini’s of the world, but Machado would become the team’s 15th player on its 40-man roster to not be earning a pre-arbitration salary.
Machado would be heavily criticized in the Chicago market, as having to share tv time with current big-brother Cubbies would be tough. The overshadowing that would occur would be hard on Machado’s image too, as anything minute ‘bad’ thing that he does is under the finest microscopes and fine-tooth combs across the league and its fanbase.
What Machado showed in the playoffs was a penchant for being a dirty player, inexcusable for any player regardless of stature or star power. The White Sox, who know exactly what they would be getting into if they brought him in, would need to have a plan in place for how to deal with any and all negative press and connotations that Machado would procure across the season.
It is almost a given that his history will be overanalyzed in any and all situations, adding to how perfect he needs to be to earn and live up to his massive payday. While White Sox fans would probably be more understanding, in the beginning, national fans and pundits would smell blood right away as soon as an issue occurred or was dug up from any part of his playing career.
Going back to the status of the team, they finished 62-100 in 2018, which somehow was not last in the AL Central, thanks to the Kansas City Royals and their dumpster-fire 58-104 season. While the Royals did not do too much worse than the White Sox, it begs the question if Machado would be able to recruit good players to join him on the White Sox and if that improved roster could even fair well in the tough AL.
With the team outlook, Machado would seemingly only improve the team by roughly 15 wins, as just a preliminary amount. At that rate, they would go from 62-100 to 77-85, far more respectable but nowhere close to even sniffing the playoffs.
Due to all those previously-mentioned aspects, a move to the White Sox would look more like a move for money and not opportunity, which would be yet another issue plaguing Machado and his image. Chicago is a much bigger market than Baltimore, and while playing in a big market may not be a focus for him, it certainly could hurt him and his image if things were to go south.
Machado and Harper both have an insane opportunity afforded to them based on their sheer talent, something most people are not able to say. But Machado has a more difficult path than his superstar counterpart, and if he decides to join forces with family members Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay with the White Sox, his legacy could forever be tarnished.