Chicago Cubs Rumors: Manny Machado confirms he will be opting out
A potential Chicago Cubs free agent target next offseason confirmed on Friday that he will indeed be a free agent after the season as San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado referred to himself "as a player that will be opting out" while speaking with reporters.
Machado signed a 10-year, $300MM deal with the San Diego Padres in 2019 and as crazy as it seems, the superstar third baseman is right in regard to his reasoning for opting out of his current contract with the Padres. Given the market inflation that Major League Baseball saw during free agency this past offseason and how that trend should continue in the years ahead, there is no question that Machado could earn even more once he reaches free agency next offseason. As Jon Heyman of the New York Post mentions, the Padres remain optimistic in regard to their ability to re-sign Machado but they are also planning a pursuit of Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani.
For the Cubs, there is no question that Machado should be their priority during free agency next offseason. Third base appears to be the one position in the Cubs' infield in which the team does not have a long-term plan. Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner should be in place as the team's middle infield tandem for the long term and Matt Mervis is expected to take over first base by the season's end. Machado will also give the Cubs the superstar bat that they desperately need while also being able to mesh with their preference for defense and run prevention.
Machado's decision to opt-out will also have an impact on Cubs' left fielder Ian Happ. Happ will be a free agent next season and there was a path where the Cubs' All-Star outfielder may have been the best true position player on the free agent market next winter. There is no question that Ohtani will be the top free agent on the market next offseason but teams will also not shy away from Happ or Machado.
If the Cubs are serious about their intent to return to relevancy at the Major League level, there is going to come a time when the team will need to be willing to set the market for a top free-agent target. That target should be Machado as the team has a clear long-term need at third base and lacks an impact bat that can stabilize their lineup. Machado checks both of those boxes.