PEORIA, Ariz. -- If the Padres have their way, Manny Machado will be their Opening Day third baseman.
That's not earth-shattering news. Twenty-nine other teams would happily pencil Machado into their starting lineups. The news is that the Padres are making a serious push for the star third baseman.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
It's easy to see why. Machado fills an obvious void at third base, and he'd become an anchor in the middle of San Diego's lineup for most of the next decade.
With that in mind, here's a breakdown of how the star third baseman could affect the rest of the Padres' short-, medium- and long-term plans.
In the short term ...
If Machado were to report to Padres camp, the dynamic would change instantly.
As things stand, San Diego is probably a year away from making a push at contention. Given the holes in the starting rotation, Machado's presence alone probably wouldn't change that.
But it might. Suddenly, the Padres' biggest lineup deficiency -- third base -- would become their biggest strength. Suddenly, that third-base competition becomes a (pretty fierce) competition for a utility role in the infield.
And who knows? Maybe a Machado signing would prompt a further look into the pitching staff. Maybe, with Machado on board, the Padres look to push their window of contention forward, and they trade from their immensely deep farm system for a front-line starter.
In the medium term ...
The most pressing question about a Machado acquisition is how it would affect the long-term infield plans, specifically for top shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect is expected to arrive within the season's first couple of months, and he's widely believed to be the club's shortstop of the future.
Machado, of course, can also play short. And some have speculated that Tatis might ultimately move to third. But the organization is staunch in its belief that Tatis is a shortstop for the long-haul.
"He's got the athleticism to play a lot of spots on the diamond," said manager Andy Green. "There's only one we're interested in having him play."
With that in mind, it's possible the Padres ask Machado to play shortstop until Tatis arrives. But Machado would almost certainly be a long-term third baseman in San Diego. How's this for an everyday lineup -- for 2019 and beyond?
1. Luis Urías, 2B
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Manny Machado, 3B
5. Wil Myers, LF
6. Franmil Reyes/Hunter Renfroe, RF
7. Manuel Margot/Franchy Cordero, CF
8. Austin Hedges/Francisco Mejía, C
In the long term ...
Everyone else in that starting lineup is under team control through at least 2022. A number of highly ranked pitching prospects are on the horizon as well. At 26, Machado is young enough to fit right into the expected window for contention -- and help keep it open for a long time.
In that regard, Machado's presence wouldn't change much about the long-term plans in San Diego. Everything else moves ahead as scheduled. The Padres might be lighter in the pocket by a few million bucks. But they still have the top farm system in baseball, and general manager A.J. Preller would no longer need to spend any of his time scouring for a third baseman.
Next offseason, the focus would shift from general talent acquisition to -- gasp -- piecing together a playoff roster on the edges. Who are the right utility/platoon pieces? Which pitchers could be brought in to provide depth? Which prospects to trade in order to accomplish some of these goals? (Right now, many in the organization are high on youngsters like third baseman Hudson Potts and shortstop Xavier Edwards. But with Machado and Tatis anchoring the left side of the infield, maybe they become trade bait.)
Padres fans have been waiting a long time to start asking questions about playoff contention. An acquisition like Machado might put the club on the brink of that goal.