Machado 'didn't want any distractions,' can focus on winning
This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
It was always a priority for the Padres that they find a way to keep Manny Machado in San Diego long-term -- chairman Peter Seidler even called it his "top priority."
Mission accomplished. The Padres and Machado agreed to an 11-year contract extension on Tuesday, a deal that will keep Machado in San Diego through the 2033 season.
There is, naturally, much fanfare about the specifics of that deal -- the fourth-most lucrative contract in baseball history. But it's worth noting the timing of that deal -- and just how important it was that Machado and the Padres got it done when they did.
This offseason, Machado expressed to the Padres that he'd prefer to avoid negotiating in the middle of the season. In fact, Machado had set a deadline of Feb. 16 for any extension talks.
We now know that to have been something of a soft deadline.
Machado and the Padres continued talking, even past Feb. 16. Still, it was clearly important to Machado that a deal get done before the start of the season -- and preferably before he left to join Team Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic.
"That was one of the reasons why we did have a deadline -- not just for myself, but out of respect for my teammates," Machado said. "To answer that question every single day and have that continue to linger on, it's a big elephant in the room. I wanted this team to be focused on our goal this year, which is to win a championship."
Now the Padres can do exactly that.
Remember Aaron Judge last summer? Judge posted one of the best individual seasons in recent memory. The Yankees were World Series contenders from start to finish. Still, Judge's contract situation loomed over that team all summer long.
This year, the Padres are coming off a wildly successful offseason. Practically flawless, from where I'm sitting. I wrote about it earlier this week. In short, they addressed every major area of need.
Now, imagine if, after all that, they entered the season with uncertainty surrounding Machado's future? His pending opt-out would’ve been quite the looming specter.
"I didn't want any distractions this year," Machado said. "It was about winning baseball -- winning baseball games, winning a championship, getting to the World Series and winning it ultimately. The last part's getting on that bus, going around that city in that parade. And I just didn't want to lose focus on that."