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Manny Machado to Padres makes tough NL field tougher for Cubs, other contenders

Machado, who went to a World Series with the Dodgers last year, agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — By the time Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon escaped the traffic jam on Interstate 10 and arrived fashionably late to the annual Cactus League media event, much of the media had created its own traffic jam of microphones and cameras around Padres GM A.J. Preller and manager Andy Green.

The Manny Machado Era has begun in San Diego.

Hoyer, who was the GM of the Padres before joining the Cubs, only could shake his head in amazement at the small-market team’s 10-year, $300 million signing.

‘‘In 2010, my payroll was $38½ million when I was the GM of the Padres,’’ he said. ‘‘Times have changed. One player’s making that in one year.’’

Beyond the personal connection of one of their executives, the immediate impact of the Machado signing for the Cubs is that it means dealing with one more star player in the National League.


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And it means the already-deeper league got one team tougher. The Marlins might be the only bona fide tankers left in the NL.

‘‘It’s hard to find a team that’s not competitive, that doesn’t have a chance,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘That means some lower win totals are probably going to win some divisions or be in the wild card. You’re not going to look at your schedule and know you’ve got some easy runs.

‘‘In ’15 and ’16, for example, in the National League, you could look at the schedule, and you’d have some stretches where you felt like, ‘We’ve got to go 11-3 in these two weeks to feel good about it.’ That’s not going to be the case anymore.’’

Coming soon

Ben Zobrist, who has been an excused absence from camp as he tends to a personal matter, might be in camp in the next several days. He’s not expected to be delayed in his preparation for the season.