The deal means many things for the Padres, who have been perennial losers since Tony Gwynn retired. While it might not mean the team is an immediate contender, it bodes well for the club's future and it finally gives their decade-long rebuild some credibility.
The 10-year, $300-million deal carries league-wide implications as well, though - far beyond the Padres or even the NL West. Let's break down the big ones.
In early January, a report suggested neither Machado nor Bryce Harper wanted to sign first and that the pair of 26-year-old superstars were waiting each other out to get the undivided attention of the league. Well, Harper has it now, and he doesn't seem to have even lost a potential suitor.
Shortly after the deal broke, a report from Jon Heyman of MLB Network suggested the Padres would remain in pursuit of Harper, drawing specific attention to the fact their $110-million payroll with Machado is still relatively low.
Of course, that chance does seem somewhat remote, and a conflicting report from Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports said the Padres were bowing out of the Harper sweepstakes.
Whether the Padres are in or out doesn't really matter, though. What matters most is that Machado finally showed that a team would eventually pay the money necessary to sign one of the best free agents in league history. For a while, it seemed like neither Machado nor Harper would be able to land a $300-million deal, with some reports Harper was fielding - but not entertaining - short-term contracts. Now that a team finally forked out the cash, there's really no question that Harper will land a record-breaking deal of his own.
The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be the logical front-runner after being tied to Harper all offseason. What better way to wrap up the winter of "stupid" money than landing a 26-year-old former MVP on a record-breaking deal? However, team general manager Matt Klentak was quick to say the Machado deal exceeded their valuations, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, which isn't an ideal thing to hear if you're Harper.
As for who they are bidding against, the Chicago White Sox seemed to have put everything (except the necessary money) in on Machado. It's unclear whether they will bid aggressively on Harper, but coming out of this process with only Yonder Alonso, Jon Jay, and Kelvin Herrera to show for it might be a bit damning.
The New York Yankees should never be counted out, though they've had a busy offseason already and have a pretty crowded outfield with Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner along with a waiting Clint Frazier. And, finally, the incumbent Washington Nationals can't be counted out after reportedly offering their former outfielder a 10-year, $300-million contract of their own on the last day of the season.
If you ask Nolan Arenado what Machado's deal means for him, he's not sure if it means anything at all, as Michael Spencer of CBS Denver found out. Despite the six-time Gold Glove winner playing coy, it does mean quite a lot for his impending free agency.
First of all, it shows a $300-million contract could materialize for him as well. It also gives the Colorado Rockies an idea of what it might take to offer an extension to the face of their franchise. The chances of a $300-million contract are a bit slimmer for Arenado, though, as the four-time All-Star will be entering his age-29 season after free agency, whereas Machado is about to enter his age-27 campaign.
It also likely means the Padres won't be in the running to try and lure Arenado from their division rival.
A reunion with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the Bronx seems like a legitimate option, as rumors swirl the Yankees have been interested in acquiring Arenado. It would likely involve moving on from Miguel Andujar, who is coming off of a remarkable rookie campaign at the plate but seems to lack any defensive acumen.
While the Yankees will likely dominate the rumor mill when it comes to Arenado over the next few months, the runners up for Machado should be considered as well. That makes the White Sox possible contenders to recruit Arenado's services. Other than the incumbent Rockies, suitors will certainly emerge as free agency inches closer.
The team that should be taken aback by this deal is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the past six seasons, the Dodgers have had an uncontested claim on the NL West, averaging 94 wins per season. The front office sat relatively idle this winter, though, letting Yasmani Grandal walk and adding A.J. Pollock. They're still the favorite to win the division, but if the Padres' prospects start panning out at the major-league level, their path to the postseason might not be so easy.
As for what this deal proclaims about the state of free agency: not a whole lot. Machado's $300-million deal was expected, but it never should have taken until players were reporting for spring to actually materialize. Even further, countless other lower-tier free agents remain unemployed, with plenty of veterans already settling for minor-league contracts. While Machado's deal isn't a sign that free agency is somehow fixed or even fine, it is a promising development that teams are still willing to pay the acquisition cost due to 26-year-old superstars, and helps to punctuate a tense winter between the union and league.