Rumor Roundup: Harper “Unsure” About Phillies

Good morning Mets Fans! It has happened! Superstar free agent shortstop, Manny Machado has finally come off the market, signing a mega-deal with the San Diego Padres for his desired 10 years and $300 million (largest contract in American sports history), per Jeff Passan of ESPN and Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, which was covered by Logan Barer of MMO yesterday.

Now with the Machado deal out of the way, this leaves room for Bryce Harper to sign what is expected to be a contract that will surpass the historic one we witnessed yesterday, according to sources. Let’s take a look at recent buzz following the Machado news along the hot stove!

Harper Remains Uncertain About Phillies 

As Andy Martino of SNY reported, with the Philadelphia Phillies “first choice” off the market in Machado, they will have to do some serious convincing if they want to land Harper, who is allegedly not sold on playing in Philadelphia at the moment, writes Danny Abriano of SNY.

Martino also noted the 26-year-old superstar’s “inconsistency and defensive decline” over the past few years as specific factors that have kept teams away from Harper.

Following the Machado signing yesterday, Phillies General Manager, Matt Klentak cited this deal to “exceed” the club’s valuation, which makes you wonder what they are willing to offer Harper, whose deal is expected to be even higher, per Matt Gelb of The Athletic.

Two of the top remaining candidates to sign Harper include the Phillies and San Francisco Giants says Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. The Washington Nationals are also still in the mix after General Manager, Mike Rizzo recently said the team is still open to re-signing him, although he turned down their initial offer of 10 years $300 million.

At this point, Harper’s options are growing thin with the majority of teams unwilling to give him the money he’s seeking, which will continue to drag out this saga, unless a mystery team comes out of the woodwork.

Mariners Show Interest in Maldonado 

The Seattle Mariners are reportedly one of “several teams” showing interest in free agent catcher, Martin Maldonado, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweeted out last night.

Maldonado spent time with the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros last season, where he hit .225/.276/.351 with a wRC+ of 74 in 119 games. Despite his struggles at the plate, posting a career stat line of .220/.289/.350 with a 72 wRC+, the 32-year-old has been more than solid defensively in his 8 big league seasons, with a total of 68 DRS, while throwing out 113 base stealers in 187 attempts.

Kenny Williams Surprised By Machado’s Decision 

As Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated writes, Chicago White Sox Executive Vice President, Kenny Williams was quoted today saying he was “shocked” about Machado’s decision to choose the Padres over their offer due to the fact that their deal seemed to be “superior” in comparison to what the Padres gave the 26-year-old superstar.

The deal Williams was referring to is the eight-year, $250 million contract the White Sox offered Machado, which holds a higher annual average value rate than the what he ultimately accepted, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal also notes that the White Sox offer had a chance to potentially reach $350 million if every incentive was reached and all options were vested, but despite this factor, Machado still chose to go with the guaranteed $300 million in the end.

While Williams said the plan to sign Machado would have helped speed up the team’s success due in part to their young core, free agent additions, and talented farm system, he also spoke on the bright side of missing out on signing the shortstop for $300 million as it would not have been “feasible” and that he still believes his team is set to make some noise this upcoming season.

These comments, along with the club’s unwillingness to go higher than $250 million guaranteed, pretty much paints the assumption that they are also OUT of the Harper sweepstakes, but at this point anything is possible.

Padres Out On Harper

According to Nightengale, the Padres are “ecstatic” about their addition of Machado and are officially OUT of the running for Harper, despite earlier reports following the announcement of the deal from Heyman, that the team was not ruling out adding the megastar outfielder, as well due to the fact that their payroll is still only at $110 million following their big splash.

If the Padres attempted to pull off a deal for Harper, they would ultimately have the two highest paid professional athletes in the history of American sports, which is more than unrealistic with Harper expected to financially exceed Machado’s historic deal.

Although adding both players seemed to be a slim possibility because of their low payroll, it would have most likely created a financial disaster for the team long term, along with violating both the luxury and competitive balance tax if they were to have the two stars on their roster.

About Pat Ragazzo 43 Articles
NJ kid, recent college graduate, die hard Mets Fan since the age of 10. Studied Communications at Salisbury University and currently pursuing a career in sports media and TV/Radio Production. Worked as a Production Assistant on several WFAN broadcasts live from New York Giants Training Camp last summer. Please check out my sports Twitter page @ragazzoreport for advanced and unique insight around the NFL & MLB.