Free-agent infielder Manny Machado is being pursued by a "mystery team" who has made the highest bid for the 26-year-old, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred:
Heyman had previously made mention of a "mystery team" in a Jan. 11 tweet as well:
According to SNY's Andy Martino, Machado "has met personally with at least one of the unidentified teams in recent days." Martino also asserted Machado "will go to highest bidder, period."
Machado had 37 home runs and 107 RBI and tallied a .297/.367/.538 slash line for the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
With pitchers and catchers set to report in less than a month, however, Machado remains without a team.
Machado's father, Manuel, made an interesting remark to reporter Hector Gomez (h/t Zach Braziller of the New York Post) on Friday:
If there is indeed a mystery team in the lead, then the guessing game begins regarding its identity.
Sports Illustrated guessed that the team may be the San Diego Padres and offered sound reasoning. In particular, they noted San Diego is "a rebuilding team with a ton of good prospects, plenty of payroll space and a hole on the left side of the infield."
Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com wrote a seven-step report on finding the mystery team and landed on the Padres as well. He offered this take as the biggest reason why:
"One, they have a tremendous farm system that will begin plugging high-end talent into the major league roster in earnest in 2019. The most efficient way to build a contender is to develop a homegrown core and supplement it with select veterans. Machado qualifies as a select veteran. He'd accelerate the rebuild and give San Diego a lineup cornerstone."
Axisa also wrote that the Padres don't have a long-term third baseman and a lower payroll just north of $80 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.
When you put all the pieces together, the Padres make a lot of sense. Given the lack of movement surrounding the core four teams after Machado, San Diego could come through the back door and sign him.