Did San Diego Padres make right decision extending Manny Machado?

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres are enduring an unexpectedly slow start to the 2023 season. The team’s top run producer (Manny Machado) is out of the lineup after sustaining a small fracture on his left hand after being hit by a pitch in Monday night’s game. But much like the Padres offensive woes, Machado has been slumping at the plate.

Before the injury, he was hitting .232 with five home runs and 18 RBIs and in the midst of a 1-20 batting slump. Quickly, Machado became an easy target for the reason why the Friars are struggling to win games. Granted, he received the latest lengthy, expensive contract extension from team management during spring training. But do not overlook his leadership skills in getting the Padres out of their early season malaise.

San Diego Padres gave Manny Machado the contract extension everyone expected

It should come as no surprise the Padres reached an 11-year, $350 million deal with Machado. At 30, he is young enough to put up impressive offensive numbers for the duration of this contract extension.

Why would anyone be so confident in making such a proclamation? Well, Machado is immensely talented, but he is durable to play an entire season unscathed. Machado has missed only 38 games over the last eight seasons. You can hear his frustration of being out of the lineup with what he considers “a minor injury.” He lives for baseball 24/7.

Machado is the player you want on your team, but hate him if he is on the opposing side. Much like Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson, Machado loves the attention associated with wearing the black hat on the road. Often, his bat will break the hearts of the booing contingent with a clutch hit late in close games.

Offensively, Machado trails only Nolan Arenado among third basemen based on production efficiency at the plate. Careerwise, Arenado averages a .288 batting average with 35 home runs and 113 RBI over 162 games. Machado averages .281 average with 31 homers and 95 RBI in the same time frame. Also, he has a career 42.9 offensive WAR and won a Silver Slugger Award.

It is a fair comparison as both players have similar roles for their respective teams. They focus on hitting for average and power with runners in scoring position. An argument can be made Arenado’s offensive numbers are inflated from playing in Coors Field for the majority of his career. It is safe to say Arenado and Machado are future Hall of Famers because of the volume of offensive production provided.

Also, Machado has shown his worth with the glove at the hot corner. He plays the most demanding position (third base) in baseball. Machado has responded by winning two Gold Gloves with a career 13.8 defensive WAR and 98 runs saved above league average. Being a complete baseball player has allowed him to become the first major leaguer to sign multiple $300 million contracts.

Manny Machado is key to San Diego Padres winning

If the Friars are built to win a World Series title, someone needs to jump-start the offense. It has been flat-lining all season long. Critics will suggest team management overpaid at the top of the order, which left little resources to build a quality bottom of the lineup. Often, those bats are silenced by quality pitching. It is time for Machado to lead this team out of this mess.

No question, his goal is to deliver a World Series title to San Diego. The Friar Faithful cannot lose faith in Machado. Remember his performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers (.357 average with two homers and a pair of RBI) last October. Machado’s stellar postseason brought him recognition as being one of the best players in the majors today. Now, he must let his high baseball IQ provide a spark to a team desperate for a winning streak.

Despite the early season struggles, 2023 is not over for the Padres. If Machado can return to form, it could be the start of something special.