On Tuesday, Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year/$300 million contract with the San Diego Padres. Afterwards, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak stated that the record-setting deal Machado received “exceeded their valuation” and “sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.“
Brad Lidge, who closed out the Phillies last World Series victory in 2008, agrees.
“Giving Manny Machado 10 years, $300 million- I applaud the Padres, but I don’t think an other team in baseball was valuing [him] at that price,” Lidge told Zach Gelb on CBS Sports Radio. “So for the Phillies to not have to go there, I don’t think they’ve missed out on him. I think they made a smart move.”
Lidge actually provides an interesting perspective, because he reached the World Series with two different teams, and was part of teams that combined great homegrown talent with major external additions.
When the Phillies acquired Lidge from the Houston Astros in the 2007 offseason, they were not big free-agent spenders. At that point the Phillies mostly went bargain hunting, acquiring players such as Jayson Werth, J.C. Romero, Greg Dobbs and Pedro Feliz between 2006 and 2008 (all of whom played roles in the 2008 World Series victory.)
Of course, big money deals weren’t exactly needed for the Phillies during that time. Unlike the current Phillies, the team that Lidge joined already possessed three MVP-caliber players in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, not to mention other kay cogs in Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Carlos Ruiz. In addition, the Phillies made two in-season pickups that proved to be crucial, acquiring Joe Blanton and Matt Stairs.
After Pat Gillick retired following the 2008 World Series, the Phillies began to invest in mega-deals. Some of that was because players like Howard became more expensive. But Ruben Amaro Jr., Gillick’s successor, acquired Cliff Lee (twice), Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence during his first three years as general manager. During that time, the Phillies reached the World Series once, won three National League East titles and broke the franchise-record for single-season wins.
While still with the Astros, before being traded to the Phillies, Lidge saw first-hand how superstar additions can make an impact for an already talented team. After the 2003 season, the Astros lured Andy Pettitte to Houston on a three-year/$31.5 million free-agent deal.
Later that same off-season, the Astros signed Roger Clemens as well. It was believed that ‘The Rocket’ had retired at that point. Houston reached the NLCS in each of the next two seasons, and made the first World Series appearance in franchise history in 2005.
The other interesting perspective that Lidge provides is that he is a former teammate of Harper, having spent part of the 2012 season with the Washington Nationals. That was Harper’s debut season, when he homered 22 times and drove in 59 runs on his way to winning National League Rookie of the Year award at age 19.
Back in November, Lidge said on MLB Network Radio that Harper was a better fit for Philadelphia than Machado, and that Harper “could go crazy” at Citizens Bank Park. Harper does have the highest slugging percentage in Citizens Bank Park history, according to Paul Hembekides of ESPN.
That isn’t news to Phillies fans, who have seen the six-time NL All-Star homer 14 times at Citizens Bank Park over the course of his career. That is the most home runs Harper has hit at any ball park other than Nationals Park. So there is ample evidence that Harper could, as Lidge said, “go crazy” if he played 81 games in Philadelphia each season.
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