There’s little doubt the Phillies’ top free agent target this off-season will be shortstop Manny Machado. The team reportedly made an aggressive offer at the trade deadline to acquire Machado, only to see the Los Angeles Dodgers swoop in and land the superstar.
But there are hints, and people close to Machado suggest the Yankees might just be his first choice. One Machado friend went so far as to say that Machado — who has professed his love for shortstop — would easily give up shortstop to play for the Yankees. If he did so, that would be reminiscent of his mentor Alex Rodriguez, another Miami wunderkind who moved to third base in order to don the pinstripes.
This would undoubtedly be a bummer, if true. Of course, the reliability of “a friend” is certainly questionable. But while the Phils will obviously go hard after Machado, Heyman reports one top executive he’s spoken to thinks the Phillies will land Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. From Heyman’s piece:
They would seem to have a potential opening at shortstop with J.P. Crawford hurt after struggling and Scott Kingery more a second baseman than a shortstop, and word is they wouldn’t mind Machado to come as a shortstop despite only average defensive range numbers at the position. They also could more easily fit Harper into right field, as youngster Nick Williams has been decent in right field but not so great as to preclude a run at Harper.
“I think Harper winds up with the Phillies,” one rival GM predicted.
As Heyman notes, that wouldn’t necessarily close the door on Machado, though.
One Phillies-connected person suggested he expects the team to talk to both superstar free agents, and didn’t rule out signing both — though that would seem to be a stretch. Machado is said by friends to be open to going to the Phillies, whose top executives including president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak originally drafted him to Baltimore.
However, the word is Philly isn’t his first choice.
Losing Machado to the Yankees would obviously be a hard pill for the Phillies to swallow, but Harper would be a pretty nice consolation prize. Yes, Harper has struggled for much of this season, hitting .243/.382/.513 with 30 home runs, 77 RBI and 76 runs scored, with a wRC+ of 134 and a 3.0 fWAR. But consider, even if a “down” year for Harper, his 3.0 fWAR would still be highest on the Phils by a fair margin (Rhys Hoskins is at 2.5).
Harper has also been red-hot in the 2nd half, hitting .352/.448/.682 with an OPS of 1.129, with seven homers and eight doubles. In order to add Harper, the Phillies would have to make a change in their outfield, either moving Nick Williams or Odubel Herrera to another team, or moving Carlos Santana out of Philadelphia and putting Hoskins at first base.
The addition of Machado would be easy, sliding him into a shortstop position that has been held down by struggling rookie Scott Kingery or the oft-injured J.P. Crawford.
Folks, get ready for a lot of these kinds of rumors until both of these guys are signed this winter. The Phillies are going to be aggressive, both in the trade market and in free agency, and any potential superstar who could be on the move will be of interest to the Phils.
If Manny Machado won’t come to the Phillies, would you want them to sign Bryce Harper?
This poll is closed