MLB: Where will FA Harper, Machado end up?

Kevin Singhel, Staff Writer

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Spring is rapidly approaching, and with its onset, comes baseball’s Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers have begun reporting to their respective camps as the long baseball season gets underway. However, this spring training is particularly interesting, as many of the pressing questions of the offseason still remain unanswered.

This year’s free agent class was supposed to be one of the most memorable in recent times since it contained superstar outfielder Bryce Harper and superstar third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado. Experts expected both stars to sign massive deals well over $200 million, but as the calendar rolls past February, neither star has been inked to a deal yet.

Harper has long been considered a generational talent, since he made his debut at 19 years old in 2012. If anyone had said that Harper would have difficulty signing a contract last year, they likely would have called that person crazy. However, a lackluster 2018 campaign coupled with his team, the Washington Nationals, being unable to make the postseason made Harper’s value drop considerably. Although Harper has won an MVP award in the past, he has yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs, leading to some questions about his ability to lead a team.

Machado, on the other hand, just came off a successful season, in which his Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League pennant. Although highly coveted for his individual talent, Machado’s work ethic and attitude has been called into question on multiple occasions. 

There have been several occasions where Machado hasn’t finished out plays or has failed to hustle. In addition, Machado gained infamy for stepping on the foot of Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar during game four of the National League Championship Series. Although some may consider it unfair, Machado has earned the label as a slacker and a dirty player, which has clearly hurt his negotiating power.

The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the only teams that have been linked to both stars throughout virtually the entire process. The Phillies are coming off of a 2018 campaign that started off promising. They were in first place of the National League East for much of the first half of the season and were buyers at the trade deadline; however, the Phillies entered a freefall during the second half and missed the postseason entirely. 

The Phillies need the extra help that a superstar like Machado or Harper would bring, and they certainly have the money to make a deal happen. The Phillies have long been linked to both of these stars, making it likely that Philadelphia will land at least one of this year’s prized free agents.

The New York Yankees have had a long history of spending money and acquiring top free agents, which would seem to make them the perfect buyers for Harper and Machado’s services. The Yankees were a wild card team in last year’s postseason, reaching the American League Division series before eventually losing to their archrival Boston in four games. The Yankees could use one more major piece to push them over the top and become World Series contenders. 

However, the Yankees recently signed Troy Tulowitzki, who plays the same position as Machado. In addition, the Yankees outfield is already stacked with mega-stars such as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, meaning there would likely be no place for Harper. 

The Yankees are also trying to cut spending and avoid the luxury tax, a tax that comes into effect when a team has spent too much money on their roster. This tax was designed to level the playing field for small market teams, and a large deal with Harper or Machado will likely push the Yankees into the luxury tax threshold. As tantalizing as it sounds, the Bronx Bombers likely will not be adding any more firepower to their offense this offseason.

Another big spender, the Los Angeles Dodgers, could be in contention for the two stars’ services as well. The Dodgers traded for Machado at last year’s trade deadline and used his skills to catapult their team into the World Series. 

The Dodgers have the largest payroll in baseball and seem to show no fear of going into the luxury tax, as long as there is a winning product on the field. The Dodgers also made a peculiar trade in the offseason where they sent star outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds, seemingly a move to clear outfield roster spots for a potential Harper signing. 

The Dodgers certainly have the money to make a deal with one of the stars happen, so if the back-to-back National League champions don’t land Harper, or at least retain Machado, it will be a major disappointment.

Despite not being signed yet, many teams would still love to have Harper or Machado on their team. It will be interesting to see where each star will sign, what kind of money they will receive and what kind of impact they will have on their new ball clubs. 

 

Beacon Picks:

Kevin Singhel

Staff Writer

Harper to the Nationals

Machado to the Phillies

Kirsten Peters

Co-Sports Editor

Harper to the Phillies

Machado to the Padres

Ben Mandell

Co-Sports Editor

Harper to the Giants

Machado to the Padres

ParkerDorsey

Asst. Opinion Editor

Harper to the Giants

Machado to the Phillies

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