Potential Manny Machado contract structure rings a Belle

On the newest episode of the Sox Machine Podcast, Josh and I talked about the contract complications that could be holding up any negotiations with Manny Machado.

Andy Martino, a reporter for the Mets’ regional sports network, said contract discussions between the White Sox and Machado involve a structure used in the Zach Britton and Yusei Kikuchi deals:

The sides have at least discussed a contract structure that would allow Chicago to exercise an option after year three that would trigger team control for an eighth or ninth year, according to major league sources. This probably accounts for some of the confusion over whether Machado has a seven or eight year offer on the table. He has likely been offered a contract that could be either.

In that structure, Machado would get to opt out after 2021 if the team doesn’t opt in. The Yankees and Zach Britton recently agreed to that structure, which Britton’s agent Scott Boras called a “swellopt,” in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic.

Ignoring what Al A. Peterson would undoubtedly identify as a clumsy portmanteau, it makes sense that the White Sox would pursue this route. It’s not because this is a team-friendlier version of the megacontracts players used to lock down on their own, but because it would be a sort of locked-in version of how Albert Belle’s White Sox career played out.

After the 1997 season, the White Sox signed Belle to baseball’s biggest contract at five years and $55 million. It easily trumped Ken Griffey Jr.’s four-year, $34 million deal and it left Reinsdorf’s fellow owners scratching their heads, at least the ones who weren’t rubbing the wounds in their backs.

But as Sox fans of that time know, the White Sox only paid the first two years of it, due to a unique clause that allowed Belle to opt out of his contract if he wasn’t one of the three highest-paid players in baseball.

At the end of the two years, Belle had been knocked out of the top three, and so he asked the White Sox to tack on a $4.25 million raise over the remaining three years and $35 million on his contract. The Sox refused, so Belle opted out and found more money with the Baltimore Orioles. Another five-year contract, this one for $65 million, gave him the additional money he sought.

It’s hard to get the exact figures for a deal in the pre-Cot’s Contracts era, but what Belle worked out was basically a rudimentary, DIY version of what Lozano and Reinsdorf might be working on now. While it was officially a player option, and while the the White Sox would’ve been on the hook for all five years had his degenerative hip set in earlier, Belle gave the White Sox an opportunity to opt in for the remaining three years:

After agent Arn Tellem made the demand, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf had the choice to raise Belle’s salary by $1,416,667 per season or allow him to become eligible for free agency.

As it worked out, the White Sox signed Belle for two years and $20 million, and had the option to fulfill an overall commitment for five years and $59.25 million. When the Sox denied that, Belle theoretically had the option to continue playing out the remainder of his original deal, but he instead went back on the open market.

It’s not a perfect comparison to Britton and Kikuchi deals because the White Sox were on the hook for the stated original length regardless of what Belle chose. Its final form was similar, though, and this one worked in the White Sox’ favor. Belle had a standard excellent season in 1999 with the Orioles, but his hip problems set in the following year while the White Sox were running away with the AL Central, and he sat on the Orioles’ DL for the other three seasons to collect the remainder of the contractually obligated sum (although insurance helped cover it).

Should the White Sox and Machado agree formalize this type of deal — I prefer “choption” to “swellopt,” given the latter set low standards for precision — Machado would own the club’s record-setting contract, and it’d represent a massive shift in franchise fortune regardless of the size of the guaranteed initial amount. It’d just probably be prudent to hold off calling him the club’s first $100 million man until the White Sox officially issue that much money themselves.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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This is probably how the deal will get done. It will allow Jerry to get out from under this contract in 3 years. It seems like as close to a win-win as possible. 3 years of Machado is better than none. It will kick the rebuild into high gear. Then go out and get another pitcher and outfielder and we’re set.


Looks like the “This off-season sucks” topic today is #HatGate. In which, Manny may or may not be wearing a Sox hat on Yonder’s wife’s instagram. Sigh, I wish this would end.


Hahaha. A hat is legally binding, right?

Greg Nix

I’m VERY sorry to be adding to the clusterfuck, but it’s a slow day at work.

I think Machado just started following Yolmer Sanchez. If he doesn’t sign with the Sox, he’s a MASSIVE troll.

Screenshot someone took yesterday… 895 following, including Anderson and Delmonico.

I just took this today… 896 followers, with Yolmer right at the top.


Poor Yolmer. Just gained a follower, but lost his (starting) job.


He just lost a job he wasn’t very good at. Now he can go back to a job he excels at- utility infielder.

Lurker Laura

But think of all of the new opportunities for game-winning-Gatorade that Manny may provide.


‘member when he followed and unfollowed the YES Network?

Greg Nix

@jorgefabergas I honestly think he’s trollin’

Lurker Laura

I guess that’s what you do when you’re 26 and are twiddling your thumbs while waiting on the right contract offer?


As little stock as this deserves, I put more stock in this than I do a NIghtengale or Olney tweet right now. 


“Ignoring what Al A. Peterson would undoubtedly identify as a clumsy portmanteau,”
Well no duh!

As Cirensica

Stupid question, and I might not understand this well. How is this “Choption” favors Machado? Isn’t this basically a 3 year deal with a contract “extension” where the White Sox can or not extend while Machado has not saying.

As Cirensica

Thanks @jim-margalus
I see…if Machado doesn’t do anything, and the White Sox don’t pick the 2 years (let’s say) option, then it’s basically a 7 year deal. I can see how this is beneficial to both parties if the $ amounts are right


Am I understanding this right? Under the choption system, the player doesn’t get to unilaterally exercise an opt out, but can only do so after the team refuses to commit to the extra years beyond the initial deal?

Josh Nelson


How I see it working that option would involve an increase in pay. On the podcast, my guess was a boost from $25 million to $35 million a season. Maybe those numbers are closer together in reality but that was my thought on how the overall deal could be enticing to Machado.

Right Size Wrong Shape

It’s also enticing if he blows out his knee and the Sox opt out, but he can opt in and still get paid for the full 7 years.

Josh Nelson


As Scott Boras calls it, “A win, win, win deal”

I imagine Bryce Harper will be receiving something similar.


The joke of “Schroedinger’s X” gets tossed around a lot when you want to highlight an uncertain and absurd situation, but this really is looking like Schroedinger’s service contract.

Also, thank you.


I love the structure of that deal, more I look at it from every angle, I definitely think the probability of all parties winning is high


@jim-margalus What would the average per year be with a contract like this? If the average of the 7 year deal is 30 per year, would they frontload those first 3 years, plus the two that they add at the end to make it a 9 year deal?


How about “conditional opt-out” or “contingent opt-out” for the name. I’m trying to think of something that would make any sense at all to someone not already familiar with the term.

karkovice squad


Or tri-deal since it’s 3 contracts in 1.


Manny a Trois?

karkovice squad

Optionus Prime because it’s a bargain in disguise.


A variable option.

Or a spork, because it combines several things into one. A sporktion.

A ménage áption.


It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping 


Double Trouble, the world’s first energy drink slash body spray.

karkovice squad

Stripper: the box wine that’s also an industrial solvent.


But seriously Jim this is some good work digging out the Belle comparisons.   It’s something the other writers would never even think of.  And your clever writing and high brow grammar references make it al the more delightful.  

Keep up the good work, boss. 

Greg Nix

High brow Grammer reference?comment image


Exactly the look on Jim’s face when he wrote that line.  


Rumors out there late last night that he has indeed met with a mystery team and they have made him the biggest offer.


I see that as a good thing. I think the Sox were not going to increase their original offer, whatever it was, unless it was topped. Now that someone else is involved, the price will move closer to what Machado wants/needs to sign. I still expect the Sox and the Phillies to sign Machado and Harper. They are the most motivated to do so.


I agree that they are likely to up their offer now, but there isnt a scenario that makes sense where this is a good thing. Anyone you compete against you have a chance to lose too.


The reason that it’s good is that we are now getting closer to resolution of this situation. I don’t think a latecomer into this will outbid the Sox. The only team that I think will outbid them is the Phillies, and if they get Harper then they won’t. And if the Sox don’t outbid anyone else, then I question their sincerity in this whole process.


Well, id rather have machado sign with us on March 31st, then have him sign elsewhere tomorrow so I am not sure wanting a resolution soon is important to me.

The last sentence is the kicker, if the sox are sincere about adding premium free agents then machado is all but theirs, if they get outbid last minute to a reasonable deal is fan protest time


I agree with you completely on the first paragraph. I think they are committed to getting one of Harper or Machado, so this new bid will get them to put their best offer forward. I think Machado will be at Soxfest.


Hope you’re right, some think one of the teams is the Padres and if they beat us to Machado then Rick Hahn should be fired.

Also another rumor from yesterday is that the Yankees will be in on Arenado either via trade or FA next year. To me it shows the danger of not getting one of these guys now since there could be a lot more competition next year….


I remember that Belle contract and it seemed like his off-field issues are what prompted that kind of arrangement. Nowadays it seems like analysis of aging curves is what’s driving teams to avoid commitments beyond age 33.