RE-EXAMINING THE MARKET FOR BRYCE HARPER & MANNY MACHADO

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado entered this season with the general expectations being that they would be the recipients of record-setting contracts after the season, that hasn’t changed. What has changed however, is that Harper has been having a “down season of sorts” and Machado has the advantage of no longer being tied to draft pick compensation due to being traded. Let’s look at some big market teams and see where they seem to stand when it comes to pursuing these two in the offseason…

I will immediately rule out the following teams: the Miami Marlins, the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Colorado Rockies, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners, the Minnesota Twins, the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Texas Rangers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets. All of these teams are either rebuilding, can’t afford them or will not be giving out historic contracts.

NEW YORK YANKEES

The need for Machado is suddenly questionable with Miguel Andujar at third base and that despite the fact that Didi Gregorius is hitting free agency after next season, Gleyber Torres can always switch from second base to shortstop. As a result, it seems that a Machado pursuit is more a luxury than a need, and it would require trading the fan favorite Didi. The outfield is stacked even with Brett Gardner hitting free agency after the season himself: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge. There is also Clint Frazier in the mix. At this point, barring any surprise Stanton trade, the only way that Harper ends up in pinstripes is if he agrees to play first base. Interestingly, that may not be an issue.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Atlanta typically doesn’t spend that much money in free agency, but they will have a lot of money coming off the books and an opening in right field with Nick Markakis hitting free agency, as well as reason to move on from Dansby Swanson at shortstop. That said, I just don’t see them spending that much money and they already lined up a replacement for Markakis by acquiring Adam Duvall.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Will they re-sign Machado? That’s a definite possibility, however Corey Seager stands in the way. Will they try to move him to second base? But then what about Brian Dozier? They’re more likely to pursue Harper due to Yasiel Puig hitting free agency and thus vacating right field. That said, I suspect that they will save money and not pursue either one too seriously.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

They seem to refuse pursuing a rebuild and will have an opening in right field due to Andrew McCutchen hitting free agency, therefore I expect them to pursue Harper, who almost certainly will sign with a different team. I think that Harper will prefer a team that has a better farm system and that is contending and does not play their home games in a pitcher’s park. I don’t see them pursuing Machado due to being invested in Brandon Crawford at short stop and Evan Longoria at third base despite their issues.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

They don’t have room for Harper with Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Justin Upton composing their out field. They also have an elite defensive shortstop in Andrelton Simmons. They do however have room for Machado at third, but Machado seems intent on being a shortstop going forward.

HOUSTON ASTROS

They’re unlikely to pursue Machado with Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa in the mix, but have room in the out field if they want to trade their out field prospects and move on from Josh Reddick. I don’t see it happening however.

CHICAGO CUBS

There’s no room for Machado unless they trade Addison Russell, but there’s room for Harper in the out field. The question is whether they really need to make the splash. I suspect that they will be in on both players but ultimately won’t sign either one.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

They won’t spend that much money and I’d be surprised if they re-signed Harper.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

They’re the favorites for Machado as shortstop and third base are basically wide open despite Maikel Franco’s improvements. They even have room in right field for Harper. I think that there’s a very good chance that they will sign at least one of them, most likely Machado. Did I add that they have a lot of available money too?

BOSTON RED SOX

They’re unlikely to pursue either one with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts occupying third base and shortstop, and with Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts available in the outfield.

My predictions are roughly the same as before the season: Harper signs with the New York Yankees and Machado signs with Philadelphia.

What do you think? Let me know on Twitter @NeilfromNYC and in the comments.

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29 comments

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  • With all due respect, you are way off regarding the Cardinals not having the resources or being in position to make a play for either Harper or Machado.

    The Cardinals have vast resources. They just happen to be very wise in how they spend. Does it always work out with a FA, , no….see Greg Holland or Fowler.

    However, this organization has the history, the pedigree of winning, and $ to do it.

    I’m not saying they will prevail, but remember Stanton would have been theirs if he hadn’t had a say in the trade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree which is why I added the part about teams not “being in position”. I wasn’t saying that they can’t afford, I meant that they were said to be somewhere between rebuilding and trying to win mid-season and looking to dump salary. With that in mind and then typically being smart in giving out contracts, signing either doesn’t seem likely or worth it. Their OF is set and defense is important to them and Machado has been a below average defender at SS this year (his preferred position). He would have to agree to be a 3B and they would have to give him the biggest contract in team history.

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  • How can you predict Harper to the yanks? They have Stanton, Hicks, judge, Frazier, ellsbury and Gardner has an option. What sense does it make to break the contract record for a 7th outfielder. Better chance of getting kersaw for 300m.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kershaw is a far worse investment with his health issues and decline. There’s a reason why the Yankees were linked to Harper for years, he grew up as a fan and he seems to like being a celebrity making him a perfect fit. He can play 1B. Frazier is likely to be traded for a starter, Ellsbury is on way to being released, Gardner is gone after the season and there’s even a chance Stanton gets traded as Ken Rosenthal suggested.

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  • With one of the richest owners in professional sports, a history of willingness to sign big money and long-term deals, and 7 years of catering to Bryce Harper, I think the Nationals are owed more than just 14 words of “nope.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • With Scherzer and Strasburg on the books and Soto and Robles in the picture, there’s almost no chance they give him a record contract. There’s also little chance that he won’t go to a better team in a bigger market.

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  • I agree. Harper to NY with him splitting time in the OF and DH, and Machado to the Phillies. However…

    I think the REd Sox could very well be a landing spot of Machado. I think they want him and they are willing to risk Bogaerts to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you agree and yes while I wouldn’t put the Red Sox as the favorites for Machado, I definitely think that they can go after him if they’re willing to move Bogaerts or Devers and if the Yankees sign Harper then it becomes even more likely.

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  • The Nationals spent big moneytt, and other one team players, for Werth when everyone said they wouldn’t. They hve a lot of money coming off the payroll.

    Harper admires players like Mantle, Ripken, Yount, Brett, and other one-team players. He has told Martinez he wantss to stay.

    I see no reason to believe that he won’t be in DC next year.

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    • I just don’t see them giving him a record contract with Scherzer and Strasburg on the books. Also where is Robles going to play? They already have Eaton and Soto long-term. His admiration for Mantle is a big reason why he grew up a Yankees fan and he also said before that he wanted to play for them. Honestly, Washington are better off letting him go anyway as they need to save money.

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      • Harper knows nothing of Mantle except what he has read in books. Harper was born in ’92 in Vegas and Mantle died in ’95. HTF was Harper a Yankee fan ; I’ll tell you like the typical front runner who says “let me see who has won the most WS’s” duh that’s my favorite team. Wankees better be careful. They are gonna need a lot of money to sign Judge , Torres , Andujar etc. down the road.

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      • I think that they won’t have much trouble re-signing those three as long as they want to stay, but yes that should be something for Cashman to keep in mind.

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    • The Werth contract by the way wasn’t very good for them.

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  • reds or tigers? just thought id ask. my friends are sadly a reds fan and the other is a tigers fan.

    Liked by 1 person

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  • Machado will sign with LA Seager will be a work in progress in 2019 with hip surgery who know . I guess he may not be on field much in 2019 ans 2020 replace turner by your choice Machado or Seager and Dozer or turner at second.

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  • I don’t want to agree with you, because the fan in me wants to see Manny Machado in a Braves uniform. That said, I don’t see them stepping out to that degree. I see them more likely to trade for Realmuto; or one of the Mets’ aces, if they truly become available. Duvall will likely slot into Nick’s spot, and they’ll give Riley a shot at 3B.

    Machado to Philly almost feels like a lock.

    Harper feels like more of a wildcard. Could the BoSox be in play there? I see them moving on from JBJ. If Martinez is the DH, that’d be splashy- and put some pressure on the Yanks. Just a thought.

    I think you have a good read on the landscape here, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you agree for the most part. Machado would be a good fit for the Braves but honestly Riley could end up being a star and I think that having Realmuto or Syndergaard or DeGrom as you mentioned as well, might even be better than just Machado.

      I never rule out Boston from making a big acquisition but with Betts eventually needing a big contract and with Benintendi and Martinez, I don’t know if signing Harper makes much sense for them, though as a 1B he could be a fit.

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