As Phillies fans wait for the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado soap opera to come to an end, everyone remains inundated with rumor and speculation about the duo.
Washington leads the Bryce derby! The White Sox are being aggressive! No, they don’t want to do more than 7 years! Wait, yes they do! The Yankees are going to get Machado, only the Yankees don’t want Machado! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
Random MLB writers, some of them national guys, some of them from New York, and almost none of them from Philadelphia (the writers actually closest to the team), have been chiming in ad nauseum of late with “reports” on where Macharper could end up.
Some of the reports make you feel good about the Phillies’ chances.
The #Yankees are either playing it coy, trying to gauge the Andujar trade market, or simply have no intention of offering Manny Machado a $200 million-plus contract. The Chicago #WhiteSox and Philadelphia #Phillies remain the most aggressive teams for the prized infielder.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 7, 2019
Some of them do not.
Over the weekend, Bill Madden from the NY Daily News had some interesting things to say regarding the Phillies’ interest in both players as well as a well-known potential free agent after the 2020 season who really, really likes the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mike Trout. Here we go.
Despite reports that both Harper and Machado have 10-year offers, there is no credible evidence of that being true. To the contrary, it is looking more and more as if neither will even approach the 10-year/$300 million-plus deals their agents – and the ever-obliging media – maintained they would...
... It was reported the White Sox were the first team to step up to the plate for Machado last week and that their offer was in the neighborhood of seven years/$200 million. That’s more than the Yankees are prepared to pay for him, and while Phillies owner John Middleton has been talking about flexing his financial muscles this winter, there is said to be a new line of thinking among the Philly high command that, with an eye on Mike Trout, who hails from nearby Millville, N.J., becoming a free agent in two years, it is best not to tie up too much money and years in a Machado or Harper when a much bigger (albeit much more expensive) prize could be just two years away.
Keep breathin’ gang, there’s more.
Just last week, Trout’s former manager with the Angels, Mike Scioscia, suggested such a scenario in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Frank Fitzpatrick when he said: “Mike’s an east coast guy. But I know he’s gonna take his time and make a decision. I think he’ll look at what improvements are happening with the Angels and go from there.” Interestingly, Scioscia also made it clear he’d like to manage again. “I don’t feel I’ve exited the game,” he said. “If I have a chance to manage again, I’m definitely going to consider it.”
A Trout-Scioscia reunion in Philly in 2021? I wouldn’t bet against it.
There is a sizable segment of the fanbase that is so turned off by the Macharper delay that they just want the Phillies to punt on both players and save their money for Mike Trout. But this story, for the first time, states the Phils themselves may be avoiding a 10-year contract for either player because they want to make room for Trout.
Folks, it should be obvious, but this is a moronic plan for a number of reasons.
First, Macharper are generational talents, both in their mid-20s and on Hall of Fame tracks. The fact they’re available as free agents is insane, and going cheap on deals for them, or punting on them altogether, is so incredibly short-sighted it’s hard to put into words.
Second, there is no guarantee Mike Trout is even going to reach free agency. He could sign an extension with the Angels after the 2019 season is over and, if the Phils refused to get serious about Macharper in order to keep space available for Trout, and then Trout signs his extension with Los Angeles, the Phillies will have made a tremendous blunder.
Third, even if Trout reaches free agency, where is it guaranteed he’d want to play in Philadelphia? Sure, he loves coming back for Eagles games, but popping into the city you grew up near (not in) for the occasional Eagles game is totally different from making your life in that same city.
Fourth, what does this team do while they’re waiting? How do they sell this to a fanbase that is expecting this team to land one of these players this off-season and for this team to start challenging for the postseason is a suddenly ultra-tough NL East?
On Episode 246 of “Hittin’ Season,” Justin Klugh, Liz Roscher and I discussed the fallacy of this argument at length, but the long and short of it is that waiting around for Trout to potentially become available in two years is ill-advised. It is hope as a tactic and it is incredibly flawed thinking that could set the team back years.
Of course, no one knows if Madden’s report has any viability to it at all. It could be nonsense. But the longer Machado and Harper wait to sign, the more obvious it seems they haven’t gotten anything close to the types of offers we all assumed the Phillies would offer one of them when the Hot Stove season began.
Regardless of whether it’s true or not, Phillies fans need to end their Mike Trout obsession. If it ends up happening after the 2020 season, then fantastic. But the Phils can’t afford to miss out on Macharper in the hopes of landing Trout in two years.