The San Diego Padres made noise yet again on Sunday, as news broke that star third baseman Manny Machado and the team reportedly agreed to an 11-year, $350 million extension to remain in Southern California. Machado had become a franchise cornerstone, but what does this move mean for the future of the Padres? Let’s take a closer look.
A Look at Machado and the Padres
If there’s one that thing that was evident, it’s that Manny Machado owned plenty of leverage in negotiations with San Diego. The Padres would most likely not been in the postseason last year without Machado, who finished second in the NL MVP voting after he hit .298/.366/.531 with 32 home runs and 102 RBIs. San Diego sat in the middle of the pack offensively in 2022, as the Padres were without Fernando Tatis Jr. for all of 2022 and didn’t receive a whole lot of support from several members of the Padres lineup.
Now, San Diego’s lineup should be much more formidable in 2023. Juan Soto may very well rebound after a bizarre season last year, and SS Xander Bogaerts is set to provide added punch to the lineup. Add those two with Machado and a returning Tatis Jr., and San Diego can run out a dominant lineup if everything comes together. Still, Machado’s value can’t be overstated.
The 30-year-old is a terrific hitter with plus pop and expectational defensive capabilities. That combination of tools doesn’t come around very often. Machado’s prior production, skillset, and the value of the contracts handed out to free agents and soon-to-be free agents — think Rafael Devers — all worked in his favor. Now, he’s set to be a Padre for a very long time.
The Direction of San Diego Moving Forward
Owner Peter Seidler has had little qualms of spending on the Padres in recent years. Given the re-signings of both Machado and Yu Darvish, as well as the addition of Xander Bogaerts, that trend should continue. With the re-signing of Machado, San Diego now has a core in place that should be competitive for at least the next three seasons, if not longer. While one could be concerned about how these contracts will age, the Padres payroll, and any potential luxury tax penalties, the money — so far, at least — invested into the team has paid off. Not only did San Diego make it to a point it hadn’t been to since 1998 last year, the Padres are set to keep Petco Park filled for years to come with the recent success.
Just this past winter, San Diego reportedly aimed to cut off season-ticket sales to 24,000 and create a waitlist for any other potential buyers. That figure marks a 13,000 increase in season-ticket subscribers from 2019. Demand for season-tickets in San Diego is up, interest is high, and the team appears set to make another run to the playoffs in 2023. For Seidler, the move to keep his core in tact is a no-brainer.
But getting back to the payroll, it’s going to be interesting to see how San Diego does make this work going forward. For the 2023 campaign, the Padres set at about $273 million in luxury tax payroll expenses (per Roster Resource). That figure is well ahead — about $40 million, to be exact — of the $233 million luxury tax threshold. Next season, San Diego already owes around $170 million, and that figure doesn’t take into account arbitration-eligible players like Jake Cronenworth and Juan Soto, or pending free agents Blake Snell and Josh Hader.
Can San Diego keep Soto and the rest of the group together without incurring significant penalties? It’s going to be very difficult, especially given how much Soto turned down from the Nationals last year. But for San Diego, the future is not the concern at the moment. Rather, it’s trying to maximize its group in order to win now. And if the Padres can win either in 2023 or 2024, any potential penalties become moot.