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Friday, January 18, 2019

Baseball

Manny Machado reportedly seeking contract larger than Giancarlo Stanton’s

Manny Machado

If Manny Machado is looking to become the highest-paid player in the history of baseball, there’s a strong chance he is going to end up very disappointed.

The Chicago White Sox are one of the teams that have shown interest in signing Machado, and ESPN’s Buster Olney reported on Wednesday that the offer they have on the table to the free agent slugger is for $175 million over seven years.

It has been widely reported that the White Sox are not willing to go past seven years, and they seem to be sticking to that principle. Of course, that offer is roughly half of the $325 million Giancarlo Stanton got from the Miami Marlins, and Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reports that Machado has been seeking a deal comparable with that one.

Stanton had just turned 25 when he signed his mega-contract with the Marlins in 2014, and it should be noted that it is a 13-year deal. That means the average annual value is $25 million, which is the same as what the White Sox reportedly offered Machado. Stanton obviously got more long-term security, but he was not eligible to become a free agent for another two years at the time he signed his contract, anyway. The two situations are not exactly alike.

The landscape of Major League Baseball also seems to have changed since Stanton signed his deal. Teams have been more hesitant to sign players to contracts that pay them top dollar into their late-30s, and we could be seeing that trend continue with Machado and Bryce Harper.

Machado is said to have a preference of where he signs, but he needs at least one other team to get involved in the bidding if Chicago’s offer is the only one he has. While $25 million per year is nothing to scoff at, he almost certainly wants at least a 10-year contract.

Joe Maddon says Cubs are not going to sign Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

You can count the Chicago Cubs out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Prior to this offseason, there was a lot of talk about the Cubs being contenders to sign Harper. After all, there had been rumors about wanting to play with the franchise. Fast forward to this offseason, and the Cubs just gave out a big contract to Yu Darvish, which was a bust in the first year, and they don’t seem to be eager to make another major financial commitment.

That’s why manager Joe Maddon said at a charity event on Tuesday that the team is not going to sign Harper. The information was shared by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

Chicago probably feels like their offense will be more than set if their players get healthy and turn things around in 2019. Not only that, but they need to save money to pay some of their guys, namely Kris Bryant when he hits free agency. For now, it seems another NL team is a leading contender for Harper.

Report: Phillies have visions of signing Harper, Keuchel, Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

The Philadelphia Phillies have figured prominently in offseason matters, and they may not be close to done.

We know the Phillies have been linked to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for the past several months, with some talk indicating their thoughts have shifted towards Harper. But according to one report, they have their eyes on what would be one of the biggest offseasons ever.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says the Phillies have visions of signing Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.

Signing all three players would be one heck of an offseason.

Being offseason champions does not translate to guaranteed championship, but if the Phillies added all three players, they would be firmly in the mix for the NL pennant. Many teams are intentionally not spending this offseason, which has created a buyer’s market. If the Phillies are going to go big, this would be the offseason to do it.

Philly has already signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, while adding Jean Segura in a trade. Adding Harper, Keuchel and Kimbrel on top of that could result in $600 or so million in new payroll commitments, which is crazy, especially if they also have their eyes on another future prize.

Report: Mike Trout contract extension now with Angels is unlikely

Mike Trout

The Los Angeles Angels are not just worried about trying to win, they’re also concerned about the situation surrounding Mike Trout.

Their standout center fielder is signed through the 2020 season and set to become a free agent after that. Talking in the context of the Philadelphia Phillies’ plans, MLB reporter Jon Heyman said on Tuesday that the Phillies will make a big play for Trout when he becomes a free agent. He added a significant note in his tweet, saying an “extension now is unlikely” for Trout.

There was talk during last season that the Angels would try to sign Trout long term, so maybe there is no movement on that front.

You can’t really blame Trout.

The Angels have missed the playoffs four years in a row and have only reached them once in his career. They need to show a major turnaround to convince Trout to stay. Luckily they have some time to do that, though the clock is ticking.

Phillies reportedly confident they will sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado

Bryce Harper

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.

Former World Series MVP arrested on suspicion of child sex abuse

Former MLB relief pitcher John Wetteland was arrested on Monday and is facing an extremely disturbing charge.

According to TMZ, Wetteland was booked on suspicion of child sex abuse. While very few details about the incident are known, the charge specifies that the victim is under 14 years of age. Wetteland was released on $25,000 bond.

Wetteland spent time with the Dodgers, Expos, Yankees and Rangers during his MLB career. He was one of the best relievers in baseball in the 1990s and was named the MVP of the 1996 World Series after he allowed just one run in five appearances. The 52-year-old finished with a career ERA of 2.93 and 330 saves, making him one of only 29 pitchers to save 300 or more games.

Melvin Upton Jr. says he will go by BJ again this season

Melvin Upton

Melvin Upton Jr. intends to continue playing in 2019 despite not making an MLB roster last year, and the veteran outfielder may have a clever why of trying to convince teams he has turned back the clock.

If you followed Upton during the best years of his career, you know that he used to go by the nickname B.J. when he was smashing home runs with the Tampa Bay Rays. On Tuesday, Upton announced he is going back to the name he embraced during his prime.

Upton has not appeared in an MLB game since 2016, when he hit .238 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI in time split between the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres. He played in some Triple-A games with the San Francisco Giants in 2017 and was with the Cleveland Indians in spring training last year but did not make the final roster.

The nickname B.J. stands for “Bossman Junior,” and Upton was known as B.J. because his father, Melvin Upton, went by the nickname “Bossman.” The odds of Upton being signed this offseason seem slim, so perhaps the 34-year-old is hoping he has a better chance as B.J. than he would as Melvin. Though, he insisted his last name change had nothing to do with his performance on the diamond.