The MLB winter meetings began on Sunday in Las Vegas with all eyes on the game’s top free agents: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Both Harper and Machado have an unlimited amount of suitors for their services, but there are only a few teams that can actually afford their high price tag.
One of those teams that can afford either Machado or Harper is the Philadelphia Phillies. It has been constantly reported throughout the offseason that the Phillies will spend big bucks.
While they did not land Patrick Corbin, who signed a six-year deal with the Washington Nationals. Philly did make a great trade last week, acquiring All-Star infielder Jean Segura along with two relievers from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Carlos Santana.
If the Phillies could add Harper with Segura in a lineup which already features Rhys Hoskins, that would be a scary sight for many starting rotations in the National League.
However, there has been a lot of mixed signals coming from the Phillies in who they ultimately want to pursue out of the two mega free agents. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com mentioned last Wednesday in a Q&A that there are indications that Philly prefers Machado over Harper.
Zolecki goes onto explain that even though Machado isn’t an iconic player like Harper. He is still one of the game’s best at a premium position (third baseman) with a higher career WAR (33.8) than Machado (27.8).
Also, Machado could come at a cheaper price too, which might work for the Phillies as they are still looking for a quality left-handed starting pitcher.
But Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported last Thursday that Harper is “believed to be the Phillies’ top target.” He also mentioned in his latest column that the St. Louis Cardinals are also considering a run at Harper, who just acquired All-star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals believe they have an opportunity to compete in the NL Central next season and just like the Phillies and New York Yankees, have money to spend on a big-name free agent.
Along those same lines, the Chicago White Sox are also a dark horse contender for Harper and Machado. The White Sox reportedly met with Harper in Las Vegas, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan and Tim Brown.
In addition to what Yahoo reported, veteran baseball reporter Tim Kurkjian said on ESPN a couple of days ago that Chicago is one of the top three teams in the Harper sweepstakes.
During this time of the year, it is really hard to figure out what teams are going to do in free agency. But if the Phillies do not really go hard after Harper, then it opens the doors for those teams mentioned or even the Los Angeles Dodgers to swoop in and make the 26-year-old the highest paid player in the baseball.