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Looking into the MLB crystal ball

Posted on January 17, 2019 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance

Three hundred million is a heck of a lot of money but it may not be enough to sign Bryce Harper.

And Manny Machado sure seems to want close to that mark too but there have been minimal signs as to what dollar mark he will sign at.

MLB free agency has been slow again this year and the two biggest fish have yet to ink their names to any deals, despite reports saying they have both been in talks with a variety of teams.

Starting with Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals were said to have offered their former outfielder a 10-year $300 million deal, which he rejected.

Now though, it seems they have reevaluated and offered him a slight increase to that number as the offseason continues.

Other teams including the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox have also shown a vested interest in the feathered-haired outfielder, though no formal offers have been brought forward.

While his 2018 stat line was far from what you would expect a $300 million player’s to look like, he his only 26 heading into the 2019 season.

Hitting .249/.393/.496, with 34 home runs, 100 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 159 games is far from a bad season but considering who we’re talking about, it no doubt was a slight dip from what we’ve seen from him in the past.

Far more worrying for potential teams though maybe his increased strikeout rate which saw him go down on strikes a total of 169 times which was a career high, up from 131 K’s in 2015.

As a power bat though, it may not scare potential suitors as he can still obviously be an impact bat in the middle of a lineup.

With a career 27.4 WAR, with his highest coming during his NL MVP at 10 and lowest in 2014 at 1.1, almost any team in baseball could use a Bryce Harper in the middle of the lineup.

With a 10-year contract, he would almost certainly be moved to first base at some point, most likely once he reaches his 30s which really isn’t a big deal as he would still be able to provide production offensively.

As good as Harper is and could be during the 10-year deal though, I certainly don’t think he is a $300 million player, but then again that list would be incredibly short and no doubt start with Mike Trout.

With spring training coming in hot, I’d be shocked if he didn’t sign before that.

While I’m no MLB insider, a part of me believes he will sign with Philadelphia as they can offer a big long-term contract, which he is obviously after, and because they have an up and coming team that no doubt can become NL East favourites with the addition of Bryce.

Machado, who is also 26, has also not been anywhere close to signing a deal though my gut says he ends up in New York.
Even with the White Sox rumoured compelling eight-year, $250 million contract, the fact Machado has been adamant in his love of the Yankees, I think he’s just waiting to see if they offer him something in-line with what he wants.

In joining the Yanks, he adds to a team who won 100 games last year and will probably win just as many or even more in 2019.

Sure they signed Troy Tulowitzki after the Blue Jays bought him out to cover for their usual shortstop Didi Gregorius, but who honestly expects Tulo to play more than 50 games?

And if anyone actually does…well, good luck with that.

So in signing Machado, that would almost certainly shift Manny back to third base when Gregorius returns from offseason Tommy John surgery.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already come out and said New York isn’t out of the Machado sweepstakes so take that as you will.

Machado is coming off another great season that saw him get traded from the terrible Baltimore Orioles over to the Dodgers which finished with a defeat in the World Series.

In 162 regular season games, his slash line read .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs, 107 RBI and 14 stolen bags which was good for 5.7 WAR.

A payday is certainly coming to Machado and the fact he plays a premium position, whether that be short or third, definitely makes him attractive to teams, though not all will be able to afford him.

So will ‘Johnny Hustle’ reach the lucrative $300 million mark?

I don’t think so just based on the fact he still hasn’t put ink to paper and teams have been unwilling to hand out massive deals over long-term contracts.

J.D. Martinez was one of the best players in baseball last year and he didn’t sign until mid-February last year at 5 years at $110 million.

Sure, Martinez isn’t as hyped as Harper or Machado or as young but teams have obviously learned from mistakes in the past where the contracts came back to hurt them, hence the lengthened stalemate for contracts. While these two are different from the prototypical 30 plus aged free agents, I wouldn’t be shocked if they got higher dollar values and lower term.

This obviously presents pros and cons for the players, I bet they would be way more comfortable with a long-term deal due to the fact they would most likely be in their thirties when the contract comes up.

Coming off that contract, there would be no way they would come anywhere close to that dollar figure again.

Unless they are getting massive money for four, five or six-year deals, it may be in their best interests to hold out because eventually, a team will gamble on that long-term contract in order to chase a ring.

Just look at the Phillies or White Sox, both who have been linked to the two stars.

There is no doubt they will spend top dollar and give as many years to attract Machado and or Harper to their franchise.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are nowhere near getting in the mix for either player which really doesn’t make sense, especially when looking at their outfield situation.

Not going after Machado, sure that makes sense as the Jays have a loaded infield already and there are more players coming.

The outfield on the other hand needs some help and a guy like Bryce Harper could step in and be the best player in a Blue Jays uniform.

Chalk it up to wishful thinking though as the Jays have shown they aren’t going after him and even if they did, what are the odds Harper would sign to come up north? Probably not great.

So now we will have long three weeks once the season begins until Vlad Jr. sees a pitch in a Blue Jays uniform. Patience though Jays fans, patience. In the long run, it will be worth it and even though neither Machado or Harper will be in a Blue Jays uniform come Opening Day 2019, they are at least providing some fun offseason drama.

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