Head still spinning from the Philadelphia Eagles overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys? This won’t be a slow week in Philadelphia sports for you to recover, as the Phillies have joined baseball’s other 29 teams in Las Vegas for the MLB Winter Meetings. The elephant in the room – even if neither is especially likely to sign this week – is that both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are free-agents at age 26. The Phillies are widely expected to employ one of the two in 2019.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia says that the Phillies may be leaning more towards Machado, though it comes with a qualifier:
The Phillies’ search for more offense still seems to hinge on Manny Machado. The Phils have long liked him and have an interest in signing him to play third base, where he grades out as an elite defender. Phillies officials have been in contact with Machado’s representative, Dan Lozano, and they will surely speak again at the meetings. The question remains: Will Machado back off his desire to play shortstop — some believe he would for the right money — and his desire to play for the New York Yankees, who do have interest in him? Time will tell.
The Phillies acquired Jean Segura last week from the Seattle Mariners. Though Segura’s best offensive season of his career came in 2016, when he was primarily a second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks, general manager Matt Klentak likely acquired Segura with the expectation that he will be the team’s starting shortstop in 2019 and beyond. Like the Phillies front-office, Segura is very familiar with Machado, who he was a teammate of for the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. It’s unclear if any past relationship with Segura would move the needle at all for Machado in terms of a willingness to return to a position where he won two Gold Glove Awards.
If not his connection to Segura, perhaps a few hundred million dollars will. Should a Machado signing be contingent on him playing shortstop – something he suggested it would be when he visited Philadelphia in July – it will be interesting to see whether the Phillies cave, or whether they pivot and increase the intensity of their push for Harper. Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports noted in August that some of those in Machado’s inner circle felt that he would move back to third base if it meant a chance to play for the New York Yankees. It’s unclear if he would do that for the Phillies or any other team.
However, Heyman now says that the Yankees are unwilling to sign Machado to a $300 million deal, perhaps making a signing in the Bronx unlikely. Of course, things are fluid around this time of the year. If the market for the four-time All-Star isn’t as competitive as expected, and his price drops, the Yankees could very well swoop in. At this juncture, Heyman says that the Phillies and extremely financially flexible Chicago White Sox lead the pack of suitors for Machado.
Machado slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs, 107 RBIs and a 6.2 fWAR in 2018, a season he split with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. With that said, as he moved back to shortstop, the position he was drafted at, he posted -13 defensive runs saved, as opposed to 13 defensive runs saved in 2017 at third base.
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION
- If We Can Agree On Anything, Roy Halladay Should Be A Hall Of Famer
- Curt Schilling Says He Would Elect Halladay And Rolen, Not Rose, To Hall Of Fame
- Phillies Nuggets: 13 Years Is A Lot…For Any Potential Free-Agent
- With Chase Utley’s Career Concluded, His Hall Of Fame Case Comes Into Focus
- Kingery, Franco, Alfaro And The Delicate Balance Between Potential And Performance
- Bryce Harper Reportedly Told Friends That Living In Philly “Wasn’t His First Choice”
- MLB Realignment Could Result In Competitive Nightmare For Phillies
- Phillies Nation Mailbag: Who Will Be The Next Phillies-Connected Person To Be A Manager?
- Phillies Nation Mailbag: Would A Trade For Zack Greinke Make Sense?
- Phillies Nation Mailbag: When Will Harper And Machado Decide On Future?