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