No one expected the Philadelphia Phillies to lead the division by 1 1/2 games on the day of the 2018 regular season's first-half finale, Sunday against the Miami Marlins.
Clearly, with trade rumors swirling that the Phillies are in pursuit of acquiring rental shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles this month, the club recognizes the real possibility of clinching a postseason spot for the first time since 2011.
Even if the club does not acquire Machado prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, they could still ink the Hialeah, Florida, native through free agency in the offseason. The Phillies and Managing Partner John Middleton are reportedly "very aggressive" and have "no reservations about spending money," according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
The Phillies are targeting not just superstar Machado, however, but also fellow impending free agent, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Per Crasnick, the club "might try to sign" both Harper and Machado as free agents this winter.
Machado, 26, and Harper, 25, earned their fourth and sixth All-Star nods, respectively this season, after posting .313/.384/.566 and .214/.365/.468 slashes. Harper leads the National League in walks (78), while Machado has posted a respectable 23 home runs and 64 RBI while playing for the MLB-worst Orioles.
The hot stove is on.