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Hittin’ Season #232: Signing Harper AND Machado is the right and good thing to do

On the latest episode of Hittin’ Season, a harsh rebuke of those who think the Phillies shouldn’t sign both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The national media has made up their minds. There’s no way the Phillies should sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado at the same time.

Buster Olney said as much over the weekend. So did the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. On Monday, MLB Network Radio’s Casey Stern urged the Phils not to sign both stars, either. Their argument? That the Phillies are more than two superstars away from contention, and/or that signing both would kill their roster flexibility and keep them from signing other players they need to contend.

Folks, this is lunacy.

The Phillies won 80 games last year, they did not win 70 (although their Pythagorean W-L record put them at 76 wins). If the Phillies added two players of the caliber of Machado and Harper, it would immediately make them light years better. Steamer projects Harper to be a 4.9-win player next year, and Machado to be at 5.1.

That’s roughly 10 more wins, gang, and all of a sudden you’re looking at an 86-90 win ballclub. Not only that, more than another starter or a closer for the 2019 season, the Phils need a superstar or two. Why? Because they don’t have one.

Oh sure, Aaron Nola is a stud and Rhys Hoskins is a good slugger. But the Phillies do not have someone who takes the field everyday who can be counted on to anchor the middle of the lineup and be a five-win player. These are two Hall of Fame talents who are JUST NOW entering the prime and in their mid-20s. Free agents of this caliber NEVER HAPPEN. If you have the opportunity to sign both YOU DO IT and worry about the rest later.

Also, it’s a bit paradoxical to worry about the Phillies having enough to compete in 2019 with Harper and Machado while also being worried that signing two players to $300+ million contracts would hamstring them financially in the years to come.

The Phillies currently have two players under contract in 2021. Odubel Herrera and Scott Kingery. That’s it.

The team’s need for another starting pitcher is a bit overblown, too. Until September, when Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin all passed previous highs in innings in a season, the rotation was a strength of the team. Through August, Phillies starters had the 5th-best FIP in baseball and the 8th-best xFIP. They don’t need a Patrick Corbin, although that sure would be great. They do need a J.A. Happ or someone of that ilk, which would come at a price they could afford.

The Phils are also going to add to the team in trades, meaning they may take on some salary but may also be shedding some salary with the departure of players like Carlos Santana, Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez or Maikel Franco.

All this to say, the Phillies can handle signing Machado and Harper. Both would make the team a true contender in 2019, and any thought to the contrary is either New York-based bias, or overthinking.

On Episode 232 of “Hittin’ Season,” Justin Klugh, Liz Roscher and I broke down all the reasons why signing Machado and Harper is the right thing to do, and any take to the contrary is being made either by people who write for a New York media outlet, is a die-hard Mets fan, or doesn’t follow the team closely enough to know what their true needs are.

Other topics include:

  • The Phillies made a contract offer to Michael Brantley, according to a Cleveland reporter.
  • How badly to the Phils need a .300 hitter in the lineup?
  • Would you be cool with the Phillies signing Brantley and Harper in the outfield?
  • Gabe Kapler is doing great work raising funds for California wildfire victims.
  • Thanksgiving talk - hear our thoughts on side dishes and Justin’s new podcast, all about meat!

Stream it on the media player or click here if the player doesn’t load!