Phillies reportedly confident they will sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado
The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to spend big this offseason and have been linked to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and it sounds like they would be greatly disappointed if they somehow came away with neither free agent slugger.
Sources told Matt Gelb of The Athletic that the Phillies are willing to be patient with Harper and Machado and have “gained confidence” they will be able to sign one of the two. They are reportedly comfortable with not being overly aggressive because it has seemingly become clear that there are not many competitors who are set on landing Harper and/or Machado. As Gelb phrased it, there is “increasing skepticism about how this can unfold without the Phillies somehow involved.”
There have been rumblings that the Phillies are higher on Harper than Machado, but they continue to pursue both players so they can maintain leverage with their agents. In other words, they want to be able to tell both Harper and Machado that they are not desperate to sign one of them when they can just as easily end up with the other. However, Gelb reports that they have made it clear during negotiations that they have no intentions of signing both players.
Of course, Philly’s reported approach comes with some risk. If they would consider their offseason a failure without signing Harper or Machado, that means they do not want to miss out on both. Any one or two teams like the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees or Washington Nationals could turn up their pursuit of either star player at any moment, and the Phillies could suddenly be left having to overspend. They could also miss out if one or both players chose to take less money to sign elsewhere, though that seems more likely with Machado and one particular team than it does with Harper, who is a Scott Boras client.
The White Sox are either not legitimately interested in Machado or are opting to slow-play the situation, but things have a tendency to fall into place quickly during the MLB offseason. When one of Harper or Machado signs, the other could be right behind him. That is something the Phillies are undoubtedly taking into consideration.