The Phillies have made two well-publicized sales pitches to the big name free agents of 2019. The Phillies hosted free agent infielder Manny Machado in Philadelphia in December, and last weekend ventured to Las Vegas to make an effort to sign free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. Would the club possibly sign both players?
According to a published report, no.
Matt Gelb of the Athletic (subscription required and highly recommended) notes that the Phillies will only sign one or the other:
The Phillies are believed to prefer Machado over Harper because he is an elite hitter and defender, but conflicting information has spread from team to team and agent to agent. That, of course, is by design. The Phillies do not benefit from broadcasting their preference. League sources insisted the Phillies have made this much clear during negotiations: They will not sign both players.
So what does that mean for the Phillies? Leverage.
In a sense, both players are on the clock. If the Phillies sign Machado, then they are automatically out on Harper. That leaves remaining teams in on Harper able to lower the price, or refuse to budge from the offers that they have already made.
Is the 10-year, $300 million offer on the table from the Nationals? Did it increase a little bit but not to the level where the Phillies are? Or are the Nationals serious suitors at all? If the Phillies sign Harper, Machado’s other primary suitor, the Chicago White Sox, will not have to expand their offer.
The White Sox are rumored to be offering Machado either a seven or eight year deal, and some reports say the club does not plan to go higher. If the Phillies were willing to go beyond seven years, all of a sudden the White Sox are in the drivers seat at the lower number of years and dollar amount. Losing the Phillies as a potential suitor hurts either player. At some point, one of them will make a decision.
When that player picks the Phillies – and it sounds like the Phillies are optimistic one will – the other will have to work on a deal without the Phillies. The
Phillies are in a good spot.