Peter Seidler isn’t letting the ire of other “small market” owners or questions about sustainability deter him from making the big financial commitments that could help the San Diego Padres win their first World Series title.
After signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million deal in December and extending starter Yu Darvish for six years and $108 million earlier this month, the Padres owner followed the his claim that Manny Machado was his top priority extending the 30. -one-year All-Star third baseman for 11 years and $350 million Sunday afternoon.
A Padres team in a bottom-third market now operates with the third-highest payroll in Major League Baseball.
“It’s about winning, and it’s about being exciting, and it’s about letting our fans, young and old, know that they’re going to see great, exciting players year after year, year after year,” Seidler said earlier this week , before. in the extension of Machado. “When we talk about risk, there’s the risk of doing nothing. We chose to really focus on the players, and what emerged is this incredible relationship between our players and our fans.”
[Manny Machado, Padres finalizing 11-year, $350 million extension]
Machado has seen that relationship blossom over the past four years after signing a 10-year, $300 million contract in 2019. He noticed the crowd at FanFest before the start of spring training d this year He saw Padres hats scattered among fans at the Super Bowl and the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament.
“It just shows you how much we mean to a lot of people here,” Machado said. “We have seen the change. We are part of the change.”
And now, it will continue to be.
The Padres’ recent ascension was made possible in large part by Machado’s production. In 2020, he hit 16 homers in the truncated 60-game season while helping the Padres reach the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Over the next two seasons, he won his fifth and sixth career All-Star awards.
Last year, Machado was FanGraphs’ second-most valuable position player in wins over relief behind only Aaron Judge. Even after the Padres’ midseason trade for Juan Soto, it was Machado’s offense that led San Diego to its first National League Championship Series appearance since 1998.
As the supporting cast around Machado grew, so did the market for a player of his caliber.
“We were prepared for this situation,” general manager AJ Preller said.
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Unlike Nolan Arenado, who opted out of the remainder of a contract that will pay the Cardinals superstar third baseman $144 million over the next five years, Machado made his intentions clear that he would not do the same. After a self-imposed Feb. 16 deadline to reach an extension passed, Machado announced he would opt out of the remaining five years and $150 million on his deal after the 2023 season.
He was poised for a big payday next offseason when he would headline a market for light position players.
Only, the Parents wouldn’t let it get to that point.
Talks continued, and Machado landed the fourth-largest guarantee in major league history. His deal topped the eye-watering $340 commitment the Padres made to Fernando Tatis Jr. two years ago at the same time.
Add in the five-year, $100 million extension given to Joe Musgrove last season, and the Padres now have five players with nine-figure deals, including three of the 13 largest deals handed out in league history greater If the Padres had had their way, it’s possible that Trea Turner and Aaron Judge would be in San Diego as well.
“I think the biggest thing from Peter’s standpoint, he has confidence and faith in our team, our baseball group,” Preller said. “Obviously, it’s a very good place to work.”
On the one hand, the Padres will be responsible for paying Machado, Bogaerts and Darvish until they are 40 years old. On the other hand, they will have a core of Machado, Bogaerts, Tatis, Darvish and Musgrove for at least the next five years as they look to capture their first major league title since 2006 and their first World Series championship in their history. franchise
“It’s something we talk about all the time — the short-term plan and the long-term plan,” Preller said. “It’s not unlimited resources. It’s not an unlimited budget. So you have to make decisions and choices.”
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Whether they can afford all of those offers and still sign Soto long-term or participate in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes next offseason remains to be seen, but their commitment is being rewarded.
Last year, the Padres reached 3 million in attendance, a mark they had only reached once before. This year, they have limited season ticket sales for the first time to “approximately 24,000,” according to Padres CEO Erik Greupner. A waiting list has already started and they hope to surpass that 3 million mark and set a franchise attendance record by 2023.
“I think it’s a validation of our strategy that Peter has led, which is to get in front of the fan base by giving them a team that they can believe in, that they can get excited about and trust that they will respond and show up.”, Greupner said. “And they have done that.”
Seidler rejects the idea that small-market teams can’t struggle financially, much to the chagrin of small-market owners who claim they can’t spend. Only the New York franchises have higher payrolls in the 2023 season.
Not everyone is equally enthusiastic about San Diego’s method of success.
“I don’t agree 100 percent with what the Padres are doing, although I know our fans probably agree,” Rockies owner Dick Monfort said earlier this month before poke holes in the depth of the Padres’ pitching staff, which has since been upgraded.
Seidler remains inconspicuous.
“Our game, the more species we have within reason, the better,” Seidler said. “Awesome people with different opinions. That’s what makes the world go round.”
According to Roster Resource, the Padres’ projected $262 million payroll is nearly $100 million more than the Rockies’ and will make them one of five teams to be over the luxury tax threshold. Meanwhile, seven teams operate with a total payroll of less than $100 million.
While many owners make profits for winning pedigree and preach financial prudence over playoff contention, Seidler stops at nothing to present a winning product. Earlier this month, commissioner Rob Manfred tipped his hat to Seidler for his “massive financial commitment,” but also questioned the Padres’ “sustainability.”
“People love that word,” Seidler said earlier this week. “We’re going to look for a different one. Do I think our parade will be on land or water or both? Putting a big, winning team on the field in San Diego year after year is sustainable.”
And it’s something he cares about more than the frustrations of those who question his tactics.
“The goal is to win a championship,” Seidler reiterated.
Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He was previously the Dodgers’ digital and print publisher. Follow him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.
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