Manny Machado - The $300 Million Man (Photo: gaslampball.com)

Manny Machado And The Law Of Diminishing Returns (Part 2)

Unlike the Mets, Red Sox and Yankees, the Padres, faced with a now or never situation to improve, went all in on Machado. They’ll soon regret it…

The initial reaction to the long-term contract offered to Manny Machado, covered here yesterday, is only the beginning. Arguably, Manny Machado is one of the ten best ballplayers in baseball today. For purposes here, let’s just say he is while we take a closer look at what $300 million will and will not buy the San Diego Padres over the next decade.

Players are entitled to their fair share of the $10 billion MLB generated last year. All I’m saying is just give it to them in smaller doses…

That’s correct – a decade! As in a decade, ago the New York Yankees won their last World Championship after acquiring CC Sabathia (7-years $161 Million) and Mark Teixeira (8-years $180 million). Ten years is an eternity in major league baseball. A decade ago, the Cubs were still seeking their first World Series Title in a gazillion years. In this decade, the Boston Red Sox have two to the Yankees and Mets zero.

Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)
Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)

The law of diminishing returns, widely used in the field of economics, applies to a rude lesson both the Mets and Yankees have learned about long-term deals with players. Whether it’s David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, or the current albatross contracts of Yoenis Cespedes (Mets), and Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), these things never work out to the advantage of the ballclub – and as it filters down – for fans of the team.

It’s a phenomenon in baseball no one has a cure for, and the only temporary remedy appears to be that a team must first fall victim to the disease before they receive treatment for their addiction. The San Diego Padres will soon be signing up at the Betty Ford Clinic when they realize, for instance, that Manny Machado’s projected W.A.R. for 2019 is only 5.4 and not the 25.5 it would have taken the Padres to catch the Dodgers last year.

The Padres don’t need to wait for the law of diminishing returns to set in; it’s already here. Round Machado’s projected W.A.R. off to 6.0 – what the hell – make it 10.0 and the Padres are still a sub-.500 team destined to finish 2019 with a 76-86 record. Go figure.

Here’s a different spin on the quagmire facing the Padres. According to Spotrac, the team’s payroll for 2019 sits at around $120 million – without Manny Machado’s anticipated $30 million. Factor Machado in and their payroll is still substantially below the luxury tax threshold of $206 million – but – and here’s the kicker – one-third of their payroll is devoted to just two players (Eric Hosmer $21 million and Machado’s $30 million). It just makes no sense.

Mets, Red Sox, Yanks Facing New Test

While the Padres failed miserably in the test that grades logic and common sense, fans of the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox should not relax, singing praises on their organizations, because another test is coming straight at them.

The Mets are already feeling the sting with Jacob deGrom and how many years to offer a Cy Young winner who will be 31 come June. This while the Yankees ruefully look forward to dealing with their Baby Bombers, who are rapidly reaching their teens (arbitration) and adulthood (free agency). How many years and for what amount of money, for instance, will Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar be worth on the open market if the Yankees don’t deal with them now – long term?

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox All-Star (Photo: theundefeated.com)
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox All-Star (Photo: theundefeated.com)

And how about the equally hapless Red Sox, who are dealing head-on with Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts after this season, and soon, arguably the best player in baseball today, Mookie Betts. Think that’ll be fun?

The Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cubs all put their foot down with regards to Manny Machado and, seemingly, Bryce Harper. Kudos – you did well. But dealing with hometown players is a different scenario, and it remains to be seen how these teams meet that challenge. And how, for instance, the Dodgers confront their future with Corey Seager and the Cubs with Kris Bryant.

The intensity is magnified for these teams as well because unlike teams like the Padres or White Sox, these are franchises always on the cusp of winning NOW, and their fan bases expect this of them. All hell will break out on Broadway and Yawkey Way if the Yankees don’t re-up or extend Aaron Judge, or if the Red Sox decide not to keep Mookie Betts.

Nevertheless, if the trend of these long-term albatross style contracts is to be broken, it is with these hometown favorites that teams must show the same grit and determination as they exhibited in refraining from joining in on the Machado/Harper sweepstakes.

It could be the train has already left the station and teams will continue to throw good money after bad money, but I hope not. Players are entitled to their fair share of the $10 billion MLB generated last year. All I’m saying is just give it to them in smaller doses…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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