So the winter meetings came and went without even a whisper of a Machado-Harper deal on the horizon. Yes there were plenty of rumors of where the two big fish may sign, but no impending deals coming soon. Sure there were deals that were done and there was even a three team trade. Some thought that Harper may sign a contract in his hometown as a way for Boras to make a splash. Negative. Neither Machado or his agent even attended the meetings as they have their own tour of meetings scheduled for next week. The meetings did see some premium starting and relief pitchers go off the board. The Yankees came to terms with J.A. Happ. The Rays signed Charlie Morton. The Mets went back to the well and signed Familia while Joe Kelly left Boston for LA. Meanwhile, Carlos Santana was traded for the second time in two weeks as he is headed back to Cleveland.
The Philadelphia Phillies organization entered the week looking to make their own splash and spend "stupid" money, as owner John Middleton stated in an interview earlier in the month. While the Phillies did not accomplish their goal of signing one of the two superstars, they did come to terms with free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen. On paper this may seem like a failure. In reality it was just another step in the Phillies plan to improve the roster by upgrading another position of weakness. There has been so much banter today by baseball insiders whether the signing of McCutchen signals that the Phillies have either moved on from Machado and Harper or that ownership does not believe that they are in the running anymore. I would say that both of these theories are hogwash and that its just more writers trying to come up with stories.
Let's face it. The question truly is not whether or the not the Phillies have the money to land either Harper or Machado or even both. The true question is whether either of these players want to play for Philly. Well, its easy for haters to say that these guys do not want to play for the Phillies. However; money talks and ultimately the Phillies have the most money to throw at these stars. What we have here is a game of cat and mouse. Anyone that thought that the Phillies were going to leave the meeting having signed them really doesn't know how this process works. Its not like it used to be where all the top free agents went off the board right away. In fact, recent years have shown that most of the top guys are not signed until after Christmas or even into the new year (just look at last year with the Phillies and Jake Arieta).
The Phillies went into this offseason with a plan and don't expect them to deviate from that plan. No matter what jargon Matt Klentak tries to spit out; remember the voice behind the face is John Middleton. If Middleton wants Harper or Machado or both then expect that this is going to happen, barring any unforeseen circumstances. The circumstance that could happen would be that Harper and Machado both leave a ton of money on the table to sign elsewhere and that is truly a distinct possibility, although that seems highly unlikely. Expect the agents to continue floating out rumors to drive up the price until it comes down to two suitors. Then it comes down to which team blinks first and which one is willing to extend the dollars or the years. Expect Harper to command somewhere in the range of 10 years 350 million which for arguments sake puts him at the Phillies doorstep. Machado will be in the 8-10 year range and 275-300. Likewise the Phillies are the best match.
Dominoes will continue to fall. Until the news will finally break where and when Bryce and Manny make their decisions. If for some reason the Phillies do not come away with either of these players it will not be for lack of effort or money. It will be based solely on the fact that the players decided to sign for less money to go somewhere else. That's the only reason the Phillies don't get either of them. If this scenario does play out, the Phillies then go to plan B which may be an even better plan anyway. This plan is called Mike Trout. Its no secret that Trout has been linked to Philly for years now. Of course he is a local hometown kid that would love nothing more than to play in front of his friends and family. The Angels may even trade him at the deadline knowing that they will have to compete with the Phillies.
So in retrospect, if the Phillies strike out on Machado and Harper expect them to fill in holes with lower level free agents like Mike Moustakas and Michael Brantley. If someone were to tell you that the Phillies got Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Moustakas and Michael Brantley as well as one of the top relievers in baseball (Phillies linked to Andrew Miller and Zach Britton) would you say that it was a failure that they did not get the big names. I would say that's an awesome offseason for a team that is trying to improve a roster that was the youngest team in MLB in 2018. 2019 has Mike Trout written all over it as well as some star studded pitching free agents. So lets just be patient and see how this plays out before we all hit the panic button. I still say that the Phillies come away with both Harper and Machado, but then again who am I?!
The next few weeks should be exciting and it will feel like it did back in July at the trade deadline when it seemed like every other tweet was about Manny. Now multiply that by ten and that's how the next few weeks will be as far as social media goes. Kudos to Klentak and the gang so far for getting Segura and McCutchen while adding relief. Expect the Phillies to trade some pieces for a front line starter. Remember, Sixto Sanchez (Top Prospect) is in play. Despite what reports say, the Phillies could also be in line for JT Realmuto. Possible trade pieces include Mikael Franco, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Sixto Sanchez. They could also move Cesar Hernandez, but that seems less likely. Will the Phillies come down with a big game prize? Only time will tell. However, they have done a great job thus far and the sky is the limit when it comes to the organizational plan. GAME ON!
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.