The San Diego Padres have assembled one of the deepest lineups in baseball following their acquisiton of Xander Bogaerts. Already equipped with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Juan Soto, the Padres now have four (4!) superstars headlining the top of their lineup.
While San Diego's star-studded roster promises to create fireworks on the diamond, and another potential deep playoff run, it creates a headache for the front office to navigate as far as keeping the stud core in place for the future.
Luckily, general manager AJ Preller got a head start in that regard by giving Tatis a mammoth $340 million extension. With Bogaerts now locked in for 11 years, that leaves Machado and Soto whose futures remain up for debate.
Soto is estimated to make $20.3 million in 2023, his third year of arbitration, and won't hit free agency until after the 2024 season. Knowing how Preller tends to operate, the Pads will start negotiations with Soto after this year.
Machado, meanwhile, has an opt out after 2023. After missing out on Carlos Correa due to concerns over his physical, Mets fans have taken the initiative of manifesting Machado wearing blue and orange this time next year.
Padres fans can only laugh at these rumors.
Padres fans will find humor in the Mets eyeing Manny Macado for 2024 after they missed out on Carlos Correa.
The Mets being involved in Correa means they'll be in play for any big-name player that becomes available, so you can never rule Machado out. With two top-three MVP finishes in the last three seasons, Machado is likely to opt out after 2023 in the name of inking a new lucrative contract. You can guarantee it.
That doesn't mean Machado will end up in Queens, however.
Preller knows he'll have to make Machado a grandfather offer (Steve Cohen is not one to be trifled with when it comes to doling out contracts), but don't you think the six-time All-Star will prioritize returning to San Diego, where he's adored by fans and transformed his career, over bolting for the team the Padres eliminated in the Wild Card Round this year?
The Padres are likely on a similar wavelength. Simply put, San Diego isn't in the position they were last season if not for Machado. He carried the offense without Tatis, and likely would've taken home NL MVP honors if not for a mid-season slump during the summer when he battled through an ankle injury.
Tatis may reclaim the title in 2023, but Machado is the Friars de facto most valuable player after how he performed in the regular season and playoffs. And yet, Mets fans think Cohen handing Manny a blank check will persuade him to ditch San Diego for New York. The Padres print money, too, you know.
How delusional is that? Well, The Athletic's Dennis Lin predicted (subscription required) Machado will stay with the Padres beyond 2023, with the possibility of extending the 30-year-old to a $300 million contract. How about them apples, Mets fans?
That's easier said than done, obviously, but Mets fans are in for a rude awakening if they think Machado is a lock to end up in Queens in 2024. Odds are San Diego has something to say about locking up their most important player with their World Series window as open as its ever been.
But why would Mets fans think rationally? We'll just call that the Cohen effect.