It was a grey, rain-swept afternoon in the Philadelphia area. But the local professional baseball team did everything they could to paint a picture of a bright and sunny future with the organization for one of baseball’s highest-profile free agents.’
Whether Manny Machado ultimately decides to put his signature on a long-term contract with the Phillies remains to be seen. But his meeting with club officials this afternoon appeared to go very well.
Per a Tweet from Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Machado stated that his vist to Citizens Bank Park was “pretty awesome” and that he “learned a lot about the organization” during the four-hour Phillies presentation.
The visit began in a bit of a disjointed fashion. In addition to the cold, damp afternoon weather the reception on arrival at the South Philly ballpark seemed oddly uncomfortable.
Machado pulled up in a silver SUV right around 12 noon on the Pattison Avenue side of the ballpark, and stepped out, accompanied by his wife and agent.
He was briefly accosted by a local electrician, 57-year-old Tom Cudeyro, hearkening back to the electrician’s union members whose welcome to Jim Thome some 16 years ago helped encourage the slugger to sign with the Phillies as a free agent back then.
Machado obliged the fan with a photo, and then as the player moved away towards the building Cudeyro yelled “Super Bowl champs! World Series here! Do the right thing and sign! Get the money!”
On approaching the door to the building with his entourage, Machado pulled on the door handle and it wouldn’t give. Our potential $350 million dollar superstar was was momentarily locked out of his proposed new home.
After what seemed like an awkward few seconds, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak finally showed up to open the door with a “Hey, Manny!” The player responded “What’s up?” and Klentak finally invited Machado and his group inside. Waiting just inside along with Klentak was manager Gabe Kapler.
Construction worker to Machado: “Do the right thing and sign!” 😂👏 pic.twitter.com/zZNVaY9QT9
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) December 20, 2018
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia stated that present at the formal meeting overlooking the field were “…Klentak, Kapler, managing partner John Middleton, club president Andy MacPhail, assistant general manager Ned Rice, hitting coach John Mallee and bench coach Rob Thomson.”
As that meeting took place, Machado’s picture was displayed on the huge media board out in left field, with the player adorned in Phillies red pinstripes. Scott Lauber of Philly.com Tweeted out a picture of the board taken from outside the ballpark.
Manny on Phanavision. pic.twitter.com/pu9RenyKCg
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) December 20, 2018
The Phillies went after Machado via the trade route back in the summer when he was still a member of the Baltimore Orioles and the Phillies were still battling for the NL East crown. The Los Angeles Dodgers apparently offered more, and the Orioles sent Machado to the west coast. The Dodgers went on to the World Series, while the Phillies faded out of contention.
Despite their disheartening 17-34 collapse over the final six weeks of the 2018 season, the Phillies improved by 14 games in the standings this year. If the club could do the same next season, they would finish with 94 wins. That would likely be enough for at least an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Phillies are apparently one of three finalists for Machado. The 26-year-old Florida native had a similar visit yesterday with his boyhood dream team, the New York Yankees. Earlier in the week the dark-horse Chicago White Sox also made their own sales pitch.
Klentak has already made moves to better the lineup this off-season. He brought in former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen to play an outfield corner, traded for Jean Segura to become the new shortstop, and dumped Carlos Santana to allow Rhys Hoskins a return to first base.
If he can convince Machado to play third base next to Segura for the next few seasons, the Phillies would have significantly upgraded the left side of their infield. They would also have taken a massive step towards returning to the playoffs, making the first ‘Red October’ in eight years a genuine possibility in the 2019 season.
Based on his comments, it would appear that the Phillies overcame the awkwardness of the star’s arrival at their front door to make a positive first impression. Tonight at what is sure to be a swank dinner in an impressive location, they will try to put the icing on the cake.
Machado is scheduled to spend the night in town, and then fly home in the morning. It would not be at all surprising to find he and his wife Yainee meeting with agent Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group this weekend.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have a Christmas Eve announcement of a deal with one of this week’s three finalists. That deal should come in at roughly 10 years and $350 or so dollars.
The two teams which lose out, especially if those are the Phillies and White Sox, will then likely turn their efforts towards this year’s other big free agent prize, Bryce Harper. If either of those two teams is the winner on Machado, don’t be surprised if they also continue to pursue the superstar outfielder as well.
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