MLB Rumors: Padres Have 'Checked In' on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and More

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals talks with Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles after hitting a RBI double in the fifth inning at Nationals Park on June 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

If you're looking for a sleeper in the Bryce Harper-Manny Machado sweepstakes, it could be the San Diego Padres

Jon Heyman of FanCred reported the Padres have "checked in" with Harper, Machado, Mike Moustakas and Marwin Gonzalez. Perhaps the four best position players on the open market all remain unsigned in what's been a jarringly slow winter in baseball.

The Padres went 66-96 last season and do not view themselves as contenders for 2019. Heyman's report said the club's current plan is to return to contention in 2020, but the potential of landing a big name could accelerate that timeframe.

It's unclear at this point why these big names have gone unsigned. Harper and Machado came into the offseason each expected to surpass the biggest contract in the sport's history. The methodical approach seems to be more a product of teams waiting things out than any lack of urgency from Harper or Machado, as it's unclear if there are even any firm contract offers on the table.

Harper previously turned down a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals, and logic would dictate he expects to eclipse that number with his next contract. Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million deal is currently the largest in MLB history.

The Padres are not a regular player at the top tiers of free agency, and any $300 million contract in that market seems like a recipe for disaster. The Marlins had instant buyer's remorse on the contract they gave to Stanton before shipping him to the Yankees.

San Diego's payroll currently sits 25th in baseball. The club regularly ranks among the lowest payrolls in the sport and has not been out of the bottom 10 since before 2011, per Spotrac's database.

Odds are this is much ado about nothing. Moustakas or Gonzalez, however, are possibilities on a much smaller scale. 

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