Las Vegas will host the MLB Winter Meetings beginning on December 9. The oddsmakers that work in that same city seem to think the Philadelphia Phillies have a great chance to lure at least one superstar at or around the annual event.
Courtesy of OddsShark, Bovada has the Phillies as the team with the best odds of having four-time All-Star shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado on their roster for the first game of the 2019 regular season:
If you aren’t familiar with sports betting, the way it works is that if you were to bet $100 on the Phillies signing Machado, and they do end up signing Machado, you would win $150. While sports betting odds typically have no effect on what actually happens, they still give fans a general idea of what teams are more favored than others.
Machado, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, has long been a target of Philadelphia. The Phillies pursued him in July, reportedly dangling a trade package that involved the team’s second-ranked prospect, Adonis Medina. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail both were with the Baltimore Orioles when Machado was drafted back in 2011, so there’s an obvious connection.
The 26-year-old Machado is coming off of his finest offensive season yet, one in which he slashed .297/.367/.538 with a career-high 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. Machado’s statistical record, age and general talent should give him and his agent plenty of leverage when it comes time to start negotiating contracts with interested teams.
However, the odds come at a time when Machado’s name has been in the news for some negative reasons. After not running out a ground ball in the NLCS, there was a surprising interview with Fox‘s Ken Rosenthal in which Machado discussed how he didn’t plan on changing his playing style and that he isn’t a ‘Johnny Hustle’. While acknowledging he should have put more effort into running out the grounder, Machado also said he’s been the same player for seven years.
Machado also received criticism and a fine from the MLB for kicking Milwaukee Brewers first basemen Jesus Aguilar in the NLCS. Those incidents could affect his payday, as Jon Heyman of Fancred reported that the Phillies could be the only team that would give Machado a $300 million contract. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that some in the Phillies organization were in favor of staying away from Machado and instead looking elsewhere for upgrades.
These odds are even more interesting when considering Bovada also released the odds of each team when it comes to signing fellow superstar and pending free agent Bryce Harper, who had a “down year” in 2018, slashing .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs, with a career-high 130 walks. According to those odds, the Phillies were ranked even, followed by the Chicago Cubs at +300 and the Washington Nationals at +400. For the record, the Phillies odds of signing Harper are, for now, greater than the odds of signing Machado.
There has been credible speculation from some, like Jerry Crasnick, that managing partner John Middleton, who Jimmy Rollins once referred to as ‘George Steinbrenner South’, could push the Phillies to potential sign both of the young players. It would be quite the accomplishment, considering the talk that both Machado and Harper could command contracts of $300 or even $400 million. It’s not impossible, though, to hand out that amount of money when taking into account the Phillies TV deal and payroll flexibility.
That talk seemingly had cold water poured on it, however, when Heyman reported those close to the Phillies felt it was unlikely for the team to sign both players. But the new odds could provide new life for the idea of signing the duo of Machado and Harper. The realistic thinking is that the odds of the Phillies signing just one of them is far greater than the team being able to bring in both.
It’s also interesting to note that the odds for signing Machado include four National League East teams- the Phillies, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. That means even if the Phillies don’t sign Machado, there’s still a chance they could be seeing him often. Five out of the seven teams listed are also located on the East Coast. It certainly fits with the idea that Machado has the desire of signing with a team in the east.
One thing is for certain, however. Going by the Bovada odds, Machado’s and Harper’s free-agent trips could be affected by the Phillies free-agent plans, as the team has the financial power to fulfill one or both player’s wishes. Whether or not the two decide to form a Golden State Warriors setup in Philadelphia remains to be seen.
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