Phillies Leave Winter Meetings With Date Set With Machado
looks on during Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The Winter Meetings are now over. The Phillies made a couple moves while at the meetings. They signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a three-year contract. The team selected an infielder in the Rule 5 draft that they traded to the Baltimore Orioles. But the big splashes of the 2018 offseason did not come at the winter meetings for anyone interested in free agents Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
The Phillies do, however, have a meeting scheduled with Machado. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that Machado is coming to town but relays a word of caution from Phillies general manager Matt Klentak:
One of those teams will be the Phillies, who leave Vegas with a pocket full of cash and a visit scheduled next week with Machado in Philadelphia.
“I don’t know what the markets are going to turn out to be,’’ Phillies GM Matt Klentak said. “If it makes sense for this franchise, we’ll pursue it. If it doesn’t, we have to have a walkaway point, because to not have that, is bad business.
Despite the statement from Phillies part-owner John Middleton that the team had "stupid money" to spend, Klentak seems intent on not doing anything stupid.
The main competition the Phillies have is from the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. The White Sox are also a team with a lot of money and are pursuing both Machado and Harper. The New York Yankees are interested in Machado. The New York Post reports Machado could visit New York next week, too.
So what about Harper? The market for Harper is somewhat hard to pin down at the moment. Many speculated that a Harper announcement might take place during the Winter Meetings in Harper's home town of Las Vegas. Harper's agent Scott Boras met with interested teams off-site.
Whether or not the Phillies met with Harper himself is somewhat unclear. But the Phillies did indeed meet with Boras. The Phillies are said to be very interested in another client of Boras, closer Zach Britton. Generally, teams seem to be distancing themselves from an open interest in Harper
Granted, teams are not allowed to say that they are not in on a player due to fears of collusion. But the reports coming out of the organization signal the Phillies tend to prefer Machado. Boras and Harper would likely hate to see the Phillies sign Machado in the near future, as it takes a major potential bidder off the board.
Buster Olney of ESPN floated the potential that the Phillies could miss out on signing both Harper and Machado. Such an outcome might upset Phillies fans. But if the Phillies miss out on both players, it is not all doom and gloom.
One superstar does not a team make. Look at the Los Angeles Angels. They have the best player in all of baseball, super star Mike Trout. Trout has never won a single playoff game for the the Angels. In fact, his team has made the playoffs just once, in 2014, and they were promptly swept.
What is better: having Trout or winning?
The Phillies can still put together a pretty compelling roster even if they do not acquire Machado or Harper. Outfielders Michael Brantley and A.J. Pollock remain impact talent available to sign for the outfield. Infielder Mike Moustakas is a reliable left-handed bat at third base that could be productive for the Phillies in 2019.
And if the Phillies do not add a super star in 2019, there are others down the road. Third basemen Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon will be free agents next year, as will outfielder Alex Gordon and pitcher Chris Sale. And surely the Phillies are keeping an eye out on what happens in Los Angeles with Trout, a free agent the following season.
But the Phillies will likely add another starter, add a closer, and at least one more bat, if not two. That will make them much better than last season. And if the Phillies win, no one will mind if it was with a super star or not.