The Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sagas are likely to rumble on well into the New Year with both players yet to decide their next destination as they look to get record-setting deals from their next employer.
Harper and Machado are currently the two most sought-after free agents in baseball and a number of franchises have already made their pitches to lure them before, during and after the winter meetings. It is expected that the latter will make a decision before the former in 2019.
The former Washington Nationals right-fielder has been courted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago White Sox, and the Nationals among others. Machado has been courted and held meetings with the White Sox, Phillies, and the New York Yankees.
Harper’s meetings have been comparatively under-publicized in comparison to Machado, who completed his three-city tour to the teams last week, but is yet to give an indication as to his preference.
According to New York Post’s Joel Sherman, if the two players, who are chasing $300 million+ 10-year deals go after the money, then they could end up in Chicago or Philadelphia as both the franchises are looking to spend big this offseason.
The Phillies’ principal owner John Middleton has admitted in the recent past that the team could spend a “stupid amount” of money to land one of the big free agents before the new season begins.
However, according to the MLB Insider, the presence of the Dodgers and the Yankees make the choice difficult for the two players as they are the two teams that can offer them an immediate chance to compete for titles.
The Yankees have been installed as favorites to land Machado after impressing him during their face-to-face meeting on Dec.19 and the report claims that they could offer the shortstop a shorter deal for larger annual values. The Dodgers are also said to have a similar plan when it comes to making their move for Harper.
Sherman claims both players are not too enamored by a chance to move to Philadelphia and prefer New York. But the Yankees are only pursuing Machado and have not made large strides to acquire Harper during or after the winter meetings.
“So the Dodgers and Yankees could offer shorter deals for large annual values and force Harper/Machado to decide whether they want the long money or an all-but-guaranteed chance to win annually and another shot at free agency at, say, age 30 — younger, if outs are included,” Sherman wrote in the New York Post. “Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia and both would have preferred the Yankees, who have shown little interest in Harper.”
“But the other choice, particularly for Harper, is fascinating. Because even if the Dodgers refuse to offer the mega-deal, landing there for four-ish years is what is best for Harper and — not that this should matter to the slugger — the game,” he added.
However, the Harper saga is much more complicated than Machado, who only has three major teams to choose from. According to another MLB Insider, John Heyman, the Chicago Cubs are also interested in the right-fielder and could make space on their roster to make a big push in the New Year.