TAMPA, Fla. -- Thousands of pixels brightened the Yankee Stadium scoreboard with a doctored image of Manny Machado wearing pinstripes on the afternoon of Dec. 19. The club entertained the free-agent slugger for 90 minutes at the ballpark, then continued to discuss a potential future together over dinner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Once the check arrived for their meal, Machado, his wife, Yainee, and agent Dan Lozano shook hands with the contingent of team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone. It was to be the closest that Machado would come to playing for the Yankees, who had been widely believed to be his preferred destination.
:: Manny Machado's deal with Padres ::
Instead, Machado agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres on Tuesday, sources have told MLB.com. The largest free-agent contract in the history of American sports, Machado's pact is pending a physical and includes an opt-out after the 2023 season.
"There are so many different things we covered over the course of the winter, so who knows where things ended up?" Boone said. "To see [Bryce] Harper still out there this late, you never know where it's going to end up. I guess my take on it is that San Diego signed a really great player."
Aaron Judge created a stir last spring when he told Machado, then with the Orioles, that he would "look pretty good in pinstripes." But Judge is confident that the Yankees will be capable of scoring runs without Machado, offering his approval of their decision to instead pursue pitchers like Zack Britton, J.A. Happ, James Paxton and Adam Ottavino.
"The great thing about that going into the offseason was the lineup, the team that we have is pretty darn good," Judge said. "We won 100 games, so we weren't in a position I felt like that we really needed to go out there and grab too many big pieces. We were already set.
"[In 2017] we made it one game away from the World Series. And this past year we made it to the postseason and lost in the [Division Series]. We were just in a position where we needed to add maybe one or two key guys, bring back a couple key guys to get us over the hump, and I feel like we did that."
In November, Dellin Betances had publicly lobbied for the Yankees to sign Machado, with whom he developed a friendship as teammates in the World Baseball Classic. The reliever swapped text messages of congratulations with Machado on Tuesday, and said that he was not disappointed in the outcome.
"It's good to not have to face him every so often," Betances said. "Obviously he was with Baltimore and he's going to the National League, so all I can say is congrats to him. He definitely got a great deal for him and his family. I'm happy for him. I just wanted what was best for him. We've got a great team. I think we made great additions to the squad. I'm just happy for his family."
Though they remained engaged with Machado's camp, the Yankees never extended a formal offer to the infielder. In a video posted this week, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner explained why the club opted to prioritize pitching over committing a massive payday to Machado or Harper.
"Look, we have [Giancarlo] Stanton we just brought on board a year ago," Steinbrenner said. "I'm not against long-term deals. Clearly there's always concerns about the ending years of those long-term deals, but what I try to do every offseason is just try to figure out where our biggest area of need is. This year, it was not an infielder or an outfielder. It was pitching, and that's what we immediately addressed. We went after what was available and what we liked, and what we thought would be a good fit here."