The Philadelphia Phillies made no secret of the fact that they planned to be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. They have done so, but neither of them have signed with the Phillies as of the start of spring training.
Phillies president Andy MacPhail answered for that on Friday, noting that negotiations were a two-way street and that the team had still improved this offseason.
#Phillies president Andy MacPhail on the calls for the club to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado: "We're just half the equation. We're just half the equation."
— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) February 15, 2019
Like everyone else, #Phillies waiting for Bryce & Machado decisions. MacPhail on club moves so far: "It would be a hard thing to make the case that we're not a considerably better team this year than a year ago for a variety of reasons."
— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) February 15, 2019
The Phillies are still in, but MacPhail makes it sound like neither player they’re targeting is ready to make a decision. In Harper’s case, there’s the complicating factor of a division rival watching proceedings closely. The Phillies are still interested, but they’re just not there yet.
Manny Machado remains unsigned as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, but he still has interest from several clubs.
One team with interest is the San Diego Padres, who flew to Miami to meet with Machado within the past week, according the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee.
Whether the Padres have offered Machado a contract is unknown, but the NL West squad has interest in the infielder as well as Bryce Harper. Neither player appears close to signing with a team, with a former teammate sharing an ominous note about Harper’s status.
The Padres are establishing themselves as a team actually intent on building a competitive club, unlike many other teams across the league that are not trying to contend. They showed interest in JT Realmuto and continue to show interest in Machado and Harper. Whether they actually land an impact player is the big question.
The Philadelphia Phillies showed some signs of improvement last season when they won 80 games a year after finishing dead last in the NL East, and manager Gabe Kapler feels they have already proved this offseason that they are committed to contending for a World Series.
With the Phillies having acquired star catcher JT Realmuto in a trade on Thursday, Kapler was asked on Friday how he would address star free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the wake of some of the moves Philly has made.
"The move is a clear indication that we're in win-right-now mode and we're going to push our chips in." – @Phillies skipper @gabekapler on the addition of J.T. Realmuto #MLBNHotStove pic.twitter.com/zHxu5piyAT
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 8, 2019
“I think the moves that (GM Matt Klentak) made on our behalf prove that we are in win right now mode and we are going to push our chips in,” Kapler said. “When I see an organization make that kind of commitment, I want to be a part of it.”
Kapler said he was speaking to all players and not just Harper and Machado specifically, but there has been plenty of talk about the Phillies still wanting to sign one of the two sluggers.
In addition to the Realmuto trade, the Phillies also acquired shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason. Those trades combined with their signings of outfielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever David Robertson prove the Phillies are serious about ending their seven-year playoff drought.
Harper may be hoping to sign with another team this offseason, but he’s a Scott Boras client who will almost certainly follow the money. That in itself gives the Phillies an advantage over some other teams.
The San Diego Padres have been keeping tabs on superstar free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and reports are still indicating that their interest is serious.
The expectation remains that the Philadelphia Phillies will sign one of Harper or Machado, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Padres are pursuing Machado more aggressively than Philly. However, there is a difference between making aggressive pitches to a free agent and offering the most money. If the Phillies decide they want Machado, they have to financial means to outbid San Diego.
Harper seems likely to sign a bigger deal than Machado, so that might make Machado more of a realistic option for the Padres. However, there’s reason to believe they prefer Machado and may have a leg up on some other teams. There are also more teams in on Harper than Machado, so there are different reasons to envision San Diego signing either superstar. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
The New York Yankees would be far more likely to part with Miguel Andujar if they end up signing Manny Machado this offseason, but the up-and-coming third baseman is not concerned about the team bringing in a superstar who could potentially replace him.
Andujar spoke with the media while being honored at the 39th Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner at the Grand Hyatt on Tuesday, and he was asked about the Yankees’ reported interest in Machado.
“If he would have signed with the Yankees, even better,” Andujar said through a translator, via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
There are a number of ways the Yankees could handle their roster if they sign Machado. While Machado has expressed a desire to remain at shortstop, the Yankees seemingly have their long-term shortstop in place already with Did Gregorious. However, Gregorious is expected to be out through at least the All-Star break after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so Machado could play shortstop in New York in the meantime.
Either way, Andujar insisted he is not worried about the situation.
“No. Not at all,” he said. “I’ve always stayed positive.”
Andujar is just 23 and coming off a year in which he hit .297 with 27 home runs, 92 RBI and an .855 OPS. There would obviously be plenty of interest in him on the trade market, and some rival executives seem to think the Yankees want to move him.
For what it’s worth, another Yankee who would stand to lose playing time if the team signs Machado also insists he wants the free agent slugger to land in New York.
The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to have an extremely active offseason, but they haven’t made the biggest of big splashes yet. That said, it sounds like they still expect to.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Phillies are still confident that they will sign either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado despite growing interest in the two from around the league.
Even with weeks going by and more teams checking in on the two mega star free agents — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — the Phillies still believe they will land one of the 2 superstars. They do have financial clout. #stupidmoney
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 3, 2019
The biggest threat to the Phillies may well be developing on the west coast, where a new suitor appears to be growing increasingly aggressive in the race for one of the big two free agents. Neither player seems close to a decision, though, so the Phillies seem like they’ll be waiting for a while longer.
The San Diego Padres are clearly serious about landing a big free agent, and they may be developing a preference for one more than the other.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Padres may be leaning toward a pursuit of outfielder Bryce Harper, partially for marketing and business reasons, despite having more of a positional need for third baseman Manny Machado.
Padres ownership is said to view Bryce Harper as a business/marketing opportunity and despite the positional need at 3B may now lean toward Harper over Machado (also Manny not want to go west). Question now is whether San Diego could outbid a team with stupid $ (plus others).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 2, 2019
What is clear is that the Padres are serious about landing one of the two biggest names left on the free agent market, and it doesn’t appear to be the only move they want to make. If they can swing these moves, it would certainly set them on the path toward instant credibility, with Harper becoming the new face of the franchise.