Report: Manny Machado will accommodate Padres' top prospect with move back to third base

Manny Machado just signed the biggest free agent contract in the history of North American sports. And yet, he likely won’t ever be playing his favored position again if the San Diego Padres’ plan works out.

After spending a full year playing shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Padres’ new $300 million man has agreed to move back to third base for his San Diego tenure. The reason why: Fernando Tatis Jr., widely considered the top shortstop prospect in baseball.

That might be an unexpected development for some, but it’s definitely welcome news for those who miss Machado’s absurd web gems at third base and cringed at his defensive numbers in 2018. And it’s also telling just how highly the Padres and the rest of baseball think of Tatis.

Who is Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres’ shortstop of the future?

There aren’t many players with zero MLB service time that could force a player who just signed for nine figures to change positions, but the Padres clearly think they have one of them in Tatis.

Tatis was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade that sent James Shields to the South side three years ago, a roster move that will likely make any White Sox fan shudder these days. Previously considered a decent but not franchise-altering prospect, Tatis’ profile has since exploded to the point that he is universally considered one of the three best prospects in MLB entering the 2019 season.

Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus all rank Tatis as the No. 1 shortstop prospect in baseball, and Law even goes as far as to rank him ahead of Toronto Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as the top prospect at any position.

The son of former MLB journeyman Fernando Tatis, the younger Tatis is considered the crown jewel of a farm system good enough to convince Machado there is a future contender in San Diego despite a 66-96 record in 2018. Tatis himself is happy to see Machado coming, calling him his favorite player for the last half-decade.

Even though he hasn’t registered a plate appearance above Double-A ball in his professional career, the 20-year-old Tatis is expected to make his debut at Petco Park sometime in 2019. Until then, another prospect will likely shoulder the load at shortstop for the big league team.

See Machado throughout his career: 

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Manny Machado through his career
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Manny Machado through his career
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 09: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles slides into home plate to score his first career run in the fifth inning of his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 9, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 09: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles warms up before his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 9, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 10: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles cleans up after getting a shaving cream pie after a 7-1 victory against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Machado hit the first two home runs of his career in the game. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles in action against the New York Yankees during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 10, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 3-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 21: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles watches the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 21, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 12: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles plays third base during the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 12, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 10: Third baseman Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 10, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 9: Third baseman Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles against the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 9, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Texas Rangers won, 8-4. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 02: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles looks on against the Minnesota Twins on May 2, 2014 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Orioles defeated the Twins 3-0. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
June 11 2014: Third baseman Manny Machado (13) of the Baltimore Orioles swings and misses during a MLB game against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 9, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 21, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 3-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Oct 1, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) rounds the bases on his solo home run during the third inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6), first baseman Chris Davis (19) and third baseman Manny Machado (13) celebrate their win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) reaches for a base hit in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado (13) hits a two-run single in the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 28, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado (13) reacts in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 1, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado (13) catches a line drive to record the final out to beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-2 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado (13) is congratulated by outfielder Adam Jones (10) after hitting a game tying two run home run in the 7th inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado (13) watches his game tying two run home run in the 7th inning against the New York Yankees enter the stands at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 31: Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado (8) looks on after striking out with runners in scoring position during a MLB game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers singles in the eighth inning during Game 4 of the 2018 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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Neither Tatis nor Machado expected to start 2019 as Padres SS

The Padres’ Opening Day starter at shortstop will likely be Luis Urias, per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell.

While he isn’t the uber-prospect that Tatis is, Urias is very much in the Padres’ long-term plans. MLB Pipeline and Baseball America both rank him as the second-best second base prospect in the game, a rare offensive talent at a usually bat-light position.

Urias made his debut with the Padres last season and will almost certainly move to second base once Tatis makes his debut. Though shortstop is not Urias’ eventual position, the Padres likely figure that giving a shot to Urias at shortstop would be better for the team with Ian Kinsler also on board with a two-year contract.

The future is clear, though. Between Machado, Tatis, Urias and Eric Hosmer, there is a very promising long-term plan for the San Diego infield.

Related: Players who are still on the market: 

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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19
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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19

RP Craig Kimbrel

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SP Dallas Keuchel

(Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

C Kurt Suzuki

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

C Martin Maldonado

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

SS Jose Iglesias

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LF Marwin Gonzalez

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

LF Denard Span

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

CF Adam Jones

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

SP Bartolo Colon

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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