Hot Stove

Phillies pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado: the best we have is conjecture

Phillies setting a meeting with Harper while still negotiating for Machado.
(Photo: Arturo Pardavila III)

There is a certain amount of burnout taking place among Philadelphia Phillies fans as they continue to wait on decisions from free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. That is totally understandable as negotiations for the two young superstars drag into a third month.

However, we’re going to keep trying to inform fans on the latest anyway. That’s our responsibility here at Phillies Nation as (hopefully) one of your favorite providers of Phillies-related news and opinion. So here we go.

MLB insider Jon Heyman of Fancred reinforced early this afternoon that the Phillies are indeed in the process of setting up a formal face-to-face meeting with Harper and agent Scott Boras.

Heyman also mentions that the National League East Division rival Washington Nationals remain interested in bringing Harper back into their fold. The 26-year-old was Washington’s choice at first overall in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft and has played the last seven seasons in their uniform. The organization obviously has a great deal of financial and emotional investment in him.

The Nationals are believed to have offered a 10-year, $300 million contract as the 2018 season drew to a close. On the weekend before Christmas, a second meeting resulted in an offer of “much more” according to former big-league GM Jim Bowden.

It can be assumed that Harper also has emotional ties to the Washington organization. That could make the Nationals favorites to bring him back for the long term, if indeed the financial offer is substantial enough.

Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia speculated that the actual length of a contract offer might have less influence in landing Harper as would the annual average value of such a deal:

“…it should not be taken as gospel that the Phillies have offered or will offer Harper 10-plus years. And quite honestly, the focus on the number of the years for either player, but particularly Harper, has been overblown to this point. The annual average salary is what matters most.”

What Seidman is referencing is the possibility that Harper could take fewer guaranteed years in exchange for a higher AAV with an opt-out clause that could return him to free agency in his prime once again.

For instance, a four-year deal at a guaranteed $160 million ($40 mill per season average) could put Harper back into the free agent market again at age 30.

However, if the Phillies, Chicago White Sox, or some other team were to offer, say, a full 10-year deal at or above $400 million total value, such security would likely prove difficult to turn down.

Harper could get injured and lose his overall effectiveness, even his entire career, next year and that money is still his. There is a big difference between $160 million and $400 million dollars.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote earlier this week that “a person close to the player tells NBC Sports Philadelphia that a face-to-face meeting between Harper and Phillies officials is being planned for “the next week or so,” in Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas.

The Phillies clearly remain interested in Harper. It is also believed that they are even more interested in Machado. However, the 26-year-old infielder has long held a desire to one day play for the New York Yankees. That emotional attachment makes the Yankees the clear favorites to sign him, as long as the money is even close to right.

In the end, where do the Phillies actually sit at this point in regard to either superstar? TC Zencka at MLB Trade Rumors may have captured the essence with the final six words of his piece on Harper today: “the best we have is conjecture.





  1. Tom G

    January 4, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Am I the only one who does not want to overpay for either Machado or Harper?
    I would not offer more than 8 years preferably 7 and I would give them extra money on them front end anyway I don’t need a 34 35 year-old ageing veteran who prevents us from being competitive… down the road.

  2. betasigmadeltahag

    January 6, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    I have been saying that all along. Neither of these guys deserve 10 years, If they want to throw 35-40 million a year for 4-5-6 years. Even 6 years with an opt out after 3. Machado to me seems healthier long term. And I think a better defender and for this team that is more important. If the Phillies could get some thing for Hernandez I would not mind going into the season with an infield of Rhys, Kingery, Segura, and FRanco. I can see Franco having a big year. If they play him and bat him in a in a consistant place

  3. jeffrey m orbach

    January 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    At this point I would tell their agent, get off the pot. You’ve got a week to decide, yes or no. I would sign Markakis and Moustakis and tell them both to F off.I am tired of this.

    • karateman26

      January 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      I believe your suggestion to sign Markakis and Moustakis is the Phillies Plan B if they do not sign either. Also, A.J Pollack would be a better option than Markakis. Honestly, I think Machado is going to sign with the Yankees and the Harper will sign with the Dodgers as they just dumped the salaries of Puig and Kemp. I agree with you and I would rather see the Phillies try and get Cory Kluber from Cleveland.

    • czontixhldr

      January 6, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Markasis and Moustakas? No, thank you.

      Moustakas is barely an upgrade from Franco, if at all, going forward.

      Markakis had a nice walk year, yes, but how many time have we seen that happen only for the guy to crap the bed once signed. Plus, he’s going into his age 35 season, and was barely above replacement level the prior year, so you have zero idea of what you’re likely to get from the guy. IMHO you’re morel likely to get a big bounce back year from Odubel than have Markakis continue his 2018 production.

      So that leaves RF, and barring a signing of Harper, I’d rather take my chances that one or a combo of Williams/Altherr/Quinn provide better production in RF than Markakis going forward.

      If you are going to upgrade – you clearly move to upgrade – and the fact that it can be argued that Moustakas and Markakis are not clear upgrades is why I wouldn’t sign either.

      • schmenkman

        January 6, 2019 at 9:27 pm

        Yep, agree.

        Besides, if it’s a tough game in the 11th we don’t get impatient by how long it’s taking and forfeit the game.

        • Jeff Orbach

          January 7, 2019 at 10:32 am

          I just am sick and tired of the way we are being used to jack up what other teams are going to pay the 2 prima donnas. I think at this point we are bidding against ourselves, you make them a great offer 10 years over 300 million with a week up or down to decide and then move on. If they’re pulling our chain we’ll know.

          Markakis I would sign for 1 year, same with Moose. One other guy I would look at is Josh Harrison, who I saw play 3rd with the Bucs a few times.

          I am not happy with Franco, especially with the fact that he gains weight during the season. He has the range of a statue. I would look to sign either Rendon or Arenado next year as a longer term solution.

          • schmenkman

            January 7, 2019 at 1:27 pm

            To use another analogy, this is like deciding that the 2-month wait for the Mercedes is too long, and going to the lot next door to buy a Hyundai Excel.

            Markakis at this stage of his career is a below average player, and it’s debatable whether he’s much of an upgrade over Williams.

            We don’t know which Franco we’re going to get. If it’s the .847 OPS Franco from mid-June on, or even some semblance of that, then he’s better than Moustakas. Otherwise, if we get the Franco we’ve seen from mid-2016 to mid-2018, then Moose is a modest upgrade.

          • Czontixhldr

            January 8, 2019 at 12:07 am

            Jacking up the price for other teams is part of the game, even if you don’t sign the players. It limits the other teams ability to compete in the future.

            You have to play it that way, and patience is a must.

            I have no idea when and with who Harchado sign, but I would not be surprised for one or both of them to drag it into early February.

  4. Jeff Orbach

    January 7, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    It seems like it’s more(to use a car analogy) that you go into a dealership and you offer what you believe you want to pay for the Mercedes and they tell you that they have to wait because they “may” have a customer who’ll pay more. In the meantime I need a car, so I’d rather buy the Hyundai now and maybe get another Mercedes when I go to a better dealer.

    I chose 2 players that I think we could get on a 1 year deal for cheap and like the used Hyundai, I will trade it in next year when I find a dealer that’s willing to take my money. I would not mind getting Josh Harrison either.

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