GLENDALE, Ariz. — The open locker next to Jon Jay’s and Yonder Alonso’s remains unoccupied, a shrine to a runner-up finish.
It was there for Manny Machado, just in case.
But — sadly — for the White Sox, who tried to reel in the prized free-agent infielder, it shall remain open after Machado agreed to a reported 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres. The Sox’ offer, reported at $250 million over eight years by Ken Rosenthal, came up short, although incentives and vesting options could’ve taken it to $350 million. The Padres’ offer includes an opt-out after five years.
Sox vice president Ken Williams tipped his cap to the Padres shortly after the news broke Tuesday morning.
“You gotta give it to them,’’ Williams said. “They are in a similar [rebuilding] trajectory as we are. And for the same reasons we were after him, they were after him. Their ownership group did a great job in trumping everyone else.”
Williams said the Padres’ offer, with the guarantee, was at a “level not feasible to us because we still have to project putting together a total winning roster and keeping the young players that will ultimately earn into greater dollars themselves.’’
With that, an onslaught of ridicule from crushed fans on Sox Twitter ensued, chastising the Sox as unwilling or unable to compete for top free agents of Machado’s ilk. Williams said he was wearing sunglasses to mask his “shock.” And general manager Rick Hahn, who led a dogged organizational effort to get the deal done, was doing his best to mask a tough loss on a somber day around the higher-ups’ workplaces at Camelback Ranch.
“I will not begrudge a player for exercising the rights they have to choose to go elsewhere,’’ Hahn said. “I can be disappointed; I can be frustrated.’’
Hahn, Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Machado’s agent Monday with an enhanced offer and came away believing they might have a deal Tuesday. Reinsdorf, Hahn said, should be commended for his aggressiveness and “willingness to step up in terms of guaranteed dollars, structure, upside.’’
The biggest deal ever signed by a Sox player is Jose Abreu’s six-year, $68 million contract. This one would’ve dwarfed that.
In the end, it wasn’t enough. Going in, the Sox had two things working against them: They were not Machado’s first choice, and there would be a limit as to how high they would go.
“In terms of a magic cap of a number that doesn’t exist, there are certain things in the deal that aren’t going to work for us, for various reasons,” Hahn said. “We weren’t able to get this deal done.”
And so the Sox, finalists to the very end, are bridesmaids.
They signed Jay, a close friend of Machado’s, and traded for Alonso, his brother-in-law, as enticements. Word of Machado’s decision spread on the field as players were working out.
“There’s no real reaction,’’ said Jay, who works out with Machado in Miami during the offseason. “Obviously personally, as a close friend, you want to play with your friends, and that’s something you dream about and whatnot. We’re used to it, that this is a business, as well.
‘‘I’m happy for him as a friend.’’
So now Jay and Alonso — as well as Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Ivan Nova and James McCann — fall back to being viewed as offseason additions who should raise the Sox’ level somewhere above the 100-loss team from last season. The money not spent on Machado will be spent elsewhere, Hahn said, but perhaps not this year.
Even with Machado, the Sox were not going to be built to contend. He was viewed as a cornerstone to meld with a crop of good prospects coming up soon.
“We’ll have to get past that and get ready to move forward with the guys we have and give it a push,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.