Machado gets his money and moves west, Mountcastle adds a position

In the end, Manny Machado got what he likely wanted most - a massive contract in length and dollars. He’s expected to sign with the San Diego Padres for 10 years and $300 million.

Pending what happens with Bryce Harper, it’s the richest contract ever signed by a baseball free agent. Giancarlo Stanton signed a 13-year deal for $325 million, but that was an extension with the Marlins and not a free agent signing.

Machado got his money even when it looked like he might not get a deal this big, and even when some big spenders like the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers were mostly on the sidelines. He got his money, but not in the fashion this was expected to play out. It was supposed to happen faster than this. It was not supposed to involve the Padres and White Sox as key players at the end. But it did.

He got his money even after a postseason when he became a baseball villain for several questionable moves. Some plays that were deemed dirty and plays that it appeared would cost him dollars. In the end, they didn’t. It only takes one team to offer $300 million, and one did.

He also gets an opt-out after five seasons. At 31, he could re-enter free agency and make even more than $300 million over the next 10 seasons. Sure sounds like a big win for Machado.

Now the Padres have first baseman Eric Hosmer and Machado, who appears headed for third base, for a combined $444 million. Hosmer also has an opt-out after five seasons, with four remaining until he gets there. That is a lot of cash involved for just two players, but San Diego has nine prospects ranked in the Baseball America top 100 (including five pitchers) with shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. closing in on the majors already with a grade of 60 on his defense and a 70 arm. This team’s future looks very bright, and Mannyland has officially moved across the country.

MLB’s largest free agent contracts:

Manny Machado - 10 years, $300 million with Padres (2019-2028)
Alex Rodriguez - 10 years, $275 million with Yankees (2008-2017)
Alex Rodriguez - 10 years, $252 million with Rangers (2001-2010)
Albert Pujols - 10 years, $240 million with Angels (2012-2021)
Robinson Canó - 10 years, $240 million with Mariners (2014-2023)

Ryan-Mountcastle-throwing-orange-sidebar.jpgMountcastle on the move?: The Orioles are not calling it a position switch for prospect Ryan Mountcastle. He’ll still get reps at third base, but now he’s adding some at first base.

“We’re going to keep moving him,” manager Brandon Hyde said yesterday. “He’s going to do a little bit of third, a little bit of first. We’re just trying to get our eyes on him. We haven’t seen him play much, and obviously he’s a big piece for us going forward because he’s just such a dynamic offensive player.

“We’re trying to make a fit. I’m trying to get with him as much as possible. We’re going to work hard with him and figure out through this camp where we see him fit. So he’s going to be going a little bit of third, a little bit of first, back-and-forth kind of stuff.”

Mountcastle’s bat has been enough to overcome what scouts rate as a below-average arm to get the kid in several national top 100 rankings. This winter he’s been rated No. 51 by Baseball Prospectus, No. 71 by and No. 90 by Baseball America.

For Double-A Bowie last summer, at 21, he hit .297/.341/.464 with an .806 OPS. He began the season before that at Single-A Frederick and led the league in batting at .314. He also led the circuit in extra-base hits with 51, even though he played in just 88 games in the Carolina League.

The bat looks solid with vast potential. Adding first base to Mountcastle on defense now just makes sense, and they can even try left field later. Mountcastle, according to various coaches, has put in the time and work to get better with his defense. He knows he needs to improve. Now the Orioles will try to find a position to allow that to happen, so that when they do bring him to the majors, he can contribute with more than just the lumber.

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