How could it be that Manny Machado, at one time thought to be a threat to top Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million contract in free agency, was sitting on nothing better than a $175 million, seven-year offer from the White Sox with spring training only four weeks away?
As it turns out, reports of such figures are “completely wrong,” Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, said in a strong and highly unusual statement released Wednesday.
“I have known Bob Nightengale [USA Today] and Buster Olney [ESPN] for many years and have always had a good professional relationship with both,” Lozano said. “But their recent reporting, like many other rumors in the past several months, has been inaccurate and reckless when it comes to Manny Machado. I don’t know if their sources are blatantly violating the collective-bargaining agreement by intentionally misleading them to try to affect negotiations through the public or are just flat-out lying to them for other reasons. But the truth is that their reports on the details of the Sox’ level of interest in Manny are completely wrong.”
A source confirmed to the Sun-Times on Monday that the Sox’ offer was seven years, a number reported elsewhere, as well. But reports of dollars have varied from day to day, to where Lozano felt compelled to speak out. Olney and Nightengale reported $175 million Wednesday, days after Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital reported $250 million.
Interested parties in Machado’s and Bryce Harper’s negotiations might be best served exercising patience while waiting for a resolution. There might be unknown teams involved, but for Machado, only the Sox and Phillies have expressed strong interest.
It’s also known that the Sox’ pursuit of Machado has been serious and well-mapped-out, but there are limits to how high they’ll spend in a market appearing more lukewarm than expected. The Sox have eyed Machado and Harper hitting the open market at 26 for some time, and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is eager to win again after 10 consecutive years out of the playoffs. He remains well-positioned to pounce in this market and will wait rather than bid against himself.
What isn’t known is what everyone wants to know: the dollar amounts of whatever offer or offers Machado has in hand.
“I am well aware that the entire baseball universe — fans, players, teams and media members alike — is starved for information about this free-agent market for all players, including Manny,’’ Lozano’s statement continued. “But I am not going to continue to watch the press be manipulated into tampering not just with my client, but all of these players’ livelihoods as they have been doing this entire offseason. The absence of new information to report is no excuse to fabricate ‘news’ or regurgitate falsehoods without even attempting to confirm their validity, and it is a disservice to baseball fans everywhere when the media does just that.
“Moving forward, I will continue to respect the CBA’s prohibition on negotiations through the media and hope that others would do the same.”
NOTES: Left-hander Ian Clarkin was claimed off waivers by the Cubs for the second time this offseason.
† Outfielder Charlie Tilson, who was designated for assignment when the Sox signed righty Kelvin Herrera, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Charlotte.