As things currently stand, it’s Jeff Passan, Héctor Gómez, and maybe Jon Heyman vs. the world. Passan and Gómez shared Sunday that the White Sox were offering an 8-year deal to superstar free agent Manny Machado, with Gómez specifying the deal was worth $250 million. Passan has been one of baseball’s most trusted reporters, and Gómez is also legitimate, having broken other MLB news before.
Since then, a multitude of baseball reporters have came out and denied their reports, asserting that Rick Hahn and Chicago have offered just a 7-year deal to Machado. This list includes reputable guys like the local Scott Merkin and national Jon Heyman, in addition to the notoriously inaccurate Bob Nightengale.
Today, Buster Olney of ESPN reported the 7-year deal was worth $175 million, which set in motion a whirlwind of anger and hot takes from baseball fans of all cities. About a couple hours ago Heyman changed his tune, stating that he heard 7 years, $175 million is “way off” and “almost surely begins with a 2.” Congrats to Jon for his willingness to go against his previous sentiments and for actually spelling every word right in a tweet. Meanwhile, Passan just went on Waddle and Silvy of ESPN 1000 and doubled down on his 8-year claim.
Finally, Manny Machado’s agent Dan Lozano had enough. Around 4:45 PM CT today, he published a statement attacking Buster Olney and Bob Nightengale for their 7-year, $175 million report, claiming it’s false. Whoo boy.
Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group, the agent for Manny Machado, released the following statement regarding recent reports: pic.twitter.com/MmKy9doaFz
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 16, 2019
This rollercoaster of Machado contract reports has reached unprecedented levels of confusion. Never before have I seen so much (likely) posturing or so many reporters backing different claims. Take that with a grain of salt given my 18 years of age, but a quick scroll through Twitter proves many have the same feelings. Not only is it confusing, but it’s incredibly aggravating. Baseball reporters are undermining their own credibility, both with varying claims and their seeming willingness to put out whatever information teams or agents want them to. Sadly, the people telling the truth, Passan and Gomez in my opinion, get lumped in with this negativity and aren’t vindicated until the pen hits the paper.
So, how to make sense of all this? Let’s look at the ramifications if the reports are true and dive into some theories on who would want such reports out and why.
8 Years, $~250 Million Offer
This offer is undoubtedly more realistic than 7 years, $175 million. Machado racked up a 5.7 bWAR in 2018, his best season, and is just 26 years old. He deserves, at minimum, eight years and $225 million with that resumé.
If it’s true:
With a solid offer and no other contending teams purported to be so strongly interested in Machado, this would indicate the Sox are heavy, heavy favorites to land Machado. It also means the narratives of Jerry Reinsdorf and co. not willing to go over seven years or offer big deals are false, and the White Sox’s front office is serious about signing stars to bolster the rebuild.
If it’s false:
If 8 years, $~250 million is false, the question you have to ask is who would want this information out there? That can often be tricky, but in this case, it’s likely Machado’s camp spreading this to convince other competing teams that his price is in the upper 200s.
At first glance, this might seem like bad news for the White Sox. However, if Machado’s camp is trying to up the price on their star infielder, that means they’re probably not getting much interest. If the Sox’s deal is still 8 years, $~200 million with few other suitors lining up, Philadelphia zoning in on Harper, and the Yankees supposedly out…Machado to the South Side seems like a given.
However, if Chicago’s offer is underwhelming, as in 7 years, $175 million underwhelming, and Machado’s camp is trying to raise the price, then chances are they’re unhappy with offers from all teams. The White Sox would be in it still, but not a clear frontrunner. This possibility also increases the likelihood of Machado re-evaluating the situation and signing a shorter deal with an elite team. White Sox fans don’t want this.
Btw, 7/$175 Million is not something that would get done. 7/$200 Million isn’t happening either. At that point, I fully expect Machado to reassess and go to a contender & preferred destination (likely the Yankees) on a 3/$90 Million type deal
— Owen Schoenfeld (@The_Xsport) January 16, 2019
7 Years, $175 Million Offer
The immediate reaction from around the MLB was: If this is true, why are more teams not interested in pursuing Machado? Every team in baseball should be looking to snare Manny at that price. However, with over a third of the league tanking nowadays, and Machado’s documented temper and uninspiring attitude, many teams won’t even entertain the idea of landing Manny. That could cause such a low price, but I would bet my life Manny signs for significantly more than this.
If it’s true:
We’ll have several more weeks of this frustration. Most likely more teams will get interested, and Manny will have to sift through his options.
As for the Sox, it means their front office is perfectly content playing things slow. They’re starting with a very low offer, and will likely raise it once they think they’re about to be overtaken. I’m not a fan of this strategy, but it’s not complete lunacy to go about things this way.
If it’s false:
This is where things get tricky. Who benefits from this? The White Sox don’t have much of a reason to leak 7 years, $175 million as it’s so low, it would entice other people to get interested. Dan Lozano and Manny’s advisors probably wouldn’t like to admit the price is this low either, but then again it would bring more teams to the table.
Though I have no specific evidence for this, here’s a possible explanation for all the differing reports:
Right now, the White Sox do have an 8-year offer on the table. This matches both the circumstances and Passan’s report. However, the Sox didn’t want to get in too deep, and they leaked the information about it being a 7-year offer. This would explain why so many local guys like Bruce “I don’t know what I’m talking about” Levine and known team mouthpiece Bob Nightengale picked up that information so quickly.
Then the Phillies, or some outside team, told Olney that the offer was for $175 million. As I said before, such an absurdly low price has too many drawbacks for either Chicago or Machado to want that out. Perhaps it was a contract structure at one point, but I just can’t see how the Sox would be offering that currently.
Angered at the back and forth and supposed low price, Lozano sent the strongly-worded statement to refute the low price and lower credibility on future similar reports. Importantly he seemed angry at the media and not the sources behind the media, so I don’t believe his statement shows discontent with the White Sox and their negotiators.
Amidst all of this, where has Ken Rosenthal, the most respected baseball reporter, been? Sitting back, not reporting anything. Why? Because none of the information has been credible enough to report for him. The reality is we’re still early enough in the process where negotiations are somewhat fluid, and even the 8-year, $250 million report can’t be fully trusted. While I still think it’s probably true, don’t put full trust in it.
In short, this whole process appears to be far from over. For now, the White Sox are in a good spot, and likely have the best offer on the table. In the wise words of Hawk, “Sit back, relax, and strap it down.”
Featured Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images