Phillies Nation was rocked by a report on Boxing Day that the two high-profile free agents who the club has publicly pursued with big contract offers this off-season, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, may hold a negative opinion of the city, the Phillies organization, or both.
MLB insider Joel Sherman made the statement, writing the following in the New York Post: “Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia…”
That statement must be taken with a bit of a grain of salt for a number of reasons. The biggest, of course, is financial. The odds are that if either superstar turns down the Phillies, they would almost certainly be leaving tens of millions of dollars and multiple years of security on the table.
Then you have the source itself. Sherman is a New York guy. Of course, he would prefer to have Machado or Harper playing in his town, where he could enjoy watching them play and reporting on their exploits.
Finally, you have the statement itself. “Word is?” Where does this “word” come from exactly? And neither guy “particularly likes Philadelphia?” What does that even mean? Do they both hate Philly? Do they hold such a negative opinion that they would never play here? Do they even have a negative opinion at all, or are they simply ambivalent about our town?
Set aside the extremely questionable nature of the report, and let’s assume that it is completely accurate on its face. Neither Harper or Machado wants to play in Philly. Both go to a place they really do want, neither deciding to take the “stupid money” that John Middleton is offering. What next for the Phillies?
As Sherman’s report came out on the day after Christmas, at the same time another report was being released by Jon Paul Morosi at MLB.com that again linked starting pitcher Corey Kluber to the Phillies. The Cleveland Indians have been dangling their ace, hoping to land a package of younger players and prospects in return.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 26, 2018
While Morosi’s sources have the San Diego Padres as the current front-runners and the Dodgers perhaps a close second in a possible Kluber deal, the Phillies are indeed again lurking and involved.
Tribe GM Mike Chernoff is reportedly looking for a package led by a young, MLB-ready player with upside potential and a couple of solid prospects. Nick Cafardo at The Boston Globe stated the following on the Kluber situation last week:
“…from what we’re hearing, the Indians won’t deal him unless they get value-plus. There would have to be an overpayment of prospects and young players to get a deal done.”
While Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery would certainly be off the table, a Phillies package could lead with any or a combination from among Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera, and Roman Quinn.
All this highlights is the continuing fact that Middleton has made an open checkbook available to general manager Matt Klentak in order to help improve the team. It is now up to Klentak and president Andy MacPhail to entice impact players, difference-makers on the field who will also draw fans, to accept that money.
My take is that, despite New York media wishes, the Phillies are still very much in on Machado and Harper. But the team is also talking other deals, with a potential trade for Kluber just part of that overall strategy to improve the roster for 2019 as best they can.
There are plenty of options still available beyond those mentioned. At third base there is Mike Moustakas. Or you could wait a year and go after Nolan Arenado. At shortstop you could likely roll the dice on a one-year deal with an option on Troy Tulowitzki.
In the outfield, perhaps a short-term deal with A.J. Pollock or Carlos Gonzalez, one that bridges you the two years until Mike Trout becomes a free agent and we are all thrown into an apoplectic frenzy that will make all of this Harper-Machado nonsense look like child’s play.
MORE ‘HOT STOVE’ FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- As earlier reported on Harper, word has it that Machado is not in love with Philadelphia
- Angels have no interest in trading superstar Mike Trout at this time
- Phillies holdover position players are waiting for their futures to be decided
- While future free agent classes look strong, kicking can down road could be disastrous for Phillies
- Phillies may prove to be just a second choice for both Harper and Machado
NON-HOT STOVE RECENT ITEMS AT PHILLIES NATION:
- Tim Kelly’s 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
- Matt Veasey’s 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
- Chase Utley’s 40th birthday leads to mini-reunion for 2008 Phillies
- Phillies Sal Agostinelli honored as ‘Scout of the Year’
- Philography: Richie Ashburn mini-biography