So everyone’s immediate reaction to this question is automatically going to be "No!". I would like to make an arguement that they will. When you look at the offers that the cardinals have made in the past: Albert Pujols 10/$240, David Price 7/$217 (can opt out after 2018), Jason Heyward 8/$184 (can opt out after 2019), there is a lot of money offered there. Pujols and Price were both offered more in the end and wound up underperforming, and Hayward was swayed by a story we just couldn’t (and would never want to) match in "Would you like to be deified in Chicago history". Machado is unique for the Cardinals because of several reasons.
1. Fit - at every position we have above average players, maybe not great, but definitely above average. The weakest position we have at the moment however is 3rd base. On top of being the right position to upgrade we have the flexibility of allowing DeJong to move to third, his natural position, and allow Machado to play SS like he wants to. If it doesn’t work out we flip them back. This moves Gyorko back into the super utility role that we meant for him to be.
2. Age - Next year there is going to be a hailstorm of amazing free agents to have and headlining this is Harper and Machado. The rare part is that both these guys are going to be 27 years old. Rarely do you get to sign a guy in the middle of their prime and the last time we had that chance (Hayward) we had the largest offer but not the story.
3. Abilities - Machado had an off year last year and still wound up with a slash line of 253/310/471 with 33 home runs and 95 RBI’s. That was a DOWN year. So we know that even when he struggles he finds a way to produce. I really don’t think his defensive abilities need to be broken down. Platinum Glove. That is all.
4. Cost - They have been preaching financial flexibility for the past couple years and yet have not found a suitable person to spend on. When this free agency comes up we will have Waino’s contract coming off the books, Leake’s contract coming off the books, and the TV deal (although the deal seems nice it is still dwarfed by larger club’s deals, look at the Dodgers deal $$$).
5. Family - Machado is married to Yonder Alonso’s sister and although they don’t have kids yet I can’t imagine they are top far away from it. This may reduce the impact of the social aspects big cities bring to the table.
All of these things create a unique situation that the Cardinals have never been in a position for and according to reports the main competitor is going to be the Damn Yankees. The problem for them is they just got a big contract in Giancarlo Stanton, they will have large raises for their players in the coming years, and although they usually have no problems going over the spending limit with the new punishments they will probably be reluctant to do so. This gives us the opportunity to be more aggressive financially than the Yankees (how rare is that). Overall I think we have a better play than many analysts are giving us credit for. Although we have a reputation for being frugal, I think it’s has more to do with who we’re bidding on than anything else. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the look of our team for the next decade and I don’t think the Cardinals will go quietly into the night.
Final contract prediction:
10/300 front loaded with opt out after 6th year