Report: Phillies to Meet With Harper, Willing to Offer 10-Year Contract Despite 'Primary Focus' on Machado
The new year has arrived, meaning warmer weather and the baseball season is not too far away.
All offseason, Philadelphia Phillies fans wondered whether the club will either (or both) Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Conflicting rumors, arguably since the 2018 World Series concluded, have changed the narrative on where the Phillies actually stand with the superstars. On Wednesday, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury provided new information regarding Machado and Harper that surely can be perceived as positive news.
The New York Yankees have been thought to be the recent frontrunners to acquire Machado, however such perception changed late New Years Day into Wednesday, when the club signed former Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a team-friendly contract. Signing Tulowitzki, as Salisbury notes, is "inexpensive insurance" should the Yankees fail to sign Machado, and is also a "negotiating signal" to him that the Yankees will not "wait forever."
Salisbury writes that Machado remains the Phillies' "primary focus," despite stern competition to acquire his services:
The Yankees are high on Machado and he is high on playing for them — he has been for a long time. The Yanks could even offer Machado a chance to play shortstop, his favorite position, for a good chunk of the coming season as Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery. ...
The Phillies like the idea of using Machado at third base and would probably have to significantly outbid the Yankees to land him. The Phillies have been gearing for this offseason for years and have the resources to do just that — if Machado would say yes to their offer.
According to Salisbury, the Phillies remain one of at least three teams "serious" about signing Machado, joining the Yankees and Chicago White Sox. All interested teams were told to submit offers before the New Year, of which Salisbury figures them to be "preliminary offers with the bidding now ramping up."
The Phillies will meet with Harper for the first time this offseason, after meeting with his agent, Scott Boras, at last month's winter meetings in Las Vegas. A "person" close to Harper told NBC Sports Philadelphia that a face-to-fact meeting between the player and Phillies officials is being planned for "the next week or so" in the Sin City.
Along with his former and only team thus far in the Washington Nationals, the Phillies and White Sox are "the other two teams known" to be willing to guarantee Harper a 10-year contract, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Machado is expected to decide in the "next week or two," according to Salisbury, who also writes the Phillies remain interested in signing a "top reliever to the back end of their bullpen" and a left-handed starting pitcher.
While the Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers and 76ers are still in the midst of their seasons, attention toward the Phillies should continue to grow as the Machado and Harper sweepstakes likely will both come to an end in the coming weeks.