The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to superstar infielder Manny Machado for some time now. Going back to the approach of the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline and on through the early months of this current off-season, Phillies fans have waited to see if the young superstar might choose to make Philadelphia his long-term baseball home.
Based on numerous reports across the baseball landscape over the past 24 hours that wait may soon be over. The Phillies are reportedly one of three finalists for his services, joined by the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.
For the past few weeks it appeared as if the Yankees were emerging as favorites. However, New York just agreed to a deal with free agent Troy Tulowitzki. While that deal doesn’t necessarily knock the Yanks out of the Machado sweepstakes, it does appear to mitigate their need on the left side of the infield.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Philadelphia wrote today that the Yankees signing of Tulo absolutely has some bearing on their interest in Machado: “The signing is seen as inexpensive insurance should the team fail to sign Machado. It also could be a negotiating signal to Machado that the Yankees won’t wait forever.”
The Yanks would use Machado at shortstop, the position he has publicly stated as a preference, for at least the first few months of the 2019 season. Incumbent Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John surgery on his right throwing elbow back in October, and could miss at least the first half of the upcoming season.
But longer term, New York would have to work out that shortstop situation. That positional usage could also be an issue with the Phillies, who obtained shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners earlier this off-season.
In the Phillies case, they could either overpay to get Machado to play third base, which would make incumbent Maikel Franco trade bait, or they could flip Segura over to second base. Segura received NL MVP votes during the 2016 season when he spent the entire year as the Arizona Diamondbacks starting second baseman.
Salisbury commented on the possibility of the Phillies possibly needing to overpay Machado to keep him out of the Bronx:
“The Phillies like the idea of using Machado at third base and would probably have to significantly outbid the Yankees to land him. The Phillies have been gearing for this offseason for years and have the resources to do just that — if Machado would say yes to their offer.” ~ Jim Salisbury
It is still believed that the Phillies have offered up to a 10-year deal valued at between $300-350 million to Machado. The White Sox had previously been rumored to be willing to go the same 10 years. However, Bruce Levine at 670 The Score, one of Chicago’s leading sports talk stations, reported this afternoon that the Chisox are falling short of that level offer:
Reports of the White Sox offering ten plus years for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper are ”Without any substance and flat out wrong “ according to high ranking industry sources . Wh Sox will not be giving offer of more than 7 years for either player.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 2, 2019
Considering recent long-term free agent deals signed by youngish free agents such as Jason Heyward, who got eight years from the Chicago Cubs back in December of 2015, and Eric Hosmer, who received an eight-year deal from the San Diego Padres last off-season, a 10-year deal taking either Machado or fellow star free agent Bryce Harper through their age 35 seasons is not out of line.
Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors commented on just that fact regarding the two 26-year-olds:
“Either player could quite reasonably still be productive in their age-35 season, when a ten-year deal would conclude…It’s almost impossible to see Harper or Machado taking less, considering that both have delivered considerably more superstar-level production than either Heyward or Hosmer at the time of their deals.”
Jeff Passan at ESPN reported earlier today that in the wait for decisions from Machado and Harper, the infielder is likely to make his choice first, and that decision could come soon.
“Machado is going to sign first, and perhaps soon, choosing from among the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. While one cannot rule out a mystery team — agent Dan Lozano is keeping a tight lid on the proceedings, just as he did when the Miami Marlins were among the final bidders on Albert Pujols — Machado’s fit among the known interested teams is strong enough not to necessitate a furtive suitor.”
There is a very real chance that we could get a Machado decision by this coming weekend or sometime next week. If he goes to the Yankees, the Phillies would throw their considerable financial resources towards Harper. If Machado chooses to play in Philly, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies then drop out of the Harper sweepstakes or take a shot at landing both superstars.
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