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February 11, 2019

How Nolan Arenado's potential extension can validate Phillies, hurt Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

The Phillies are clearly going all in this offseason, bucking any chance they have of being a major player next offseason. The biggest potential free agent of the 2019-20 winter — Nolan Arenado — appears to be in the middle of contract extensions with the Rockies. If he strikes a deal, it makes Philadelphia's decision to focus on this free agency and not wait for next the right choice.

But there is more good news, potentially, for the Phillies. If the Rockies and their All-Star third baseman are able to agree to a long-term extension prior to Bryce Harper or Manny Machado reaching their own deals, a market price will finally be set. With a pretty relevant reference point potentially available, things could move quickly following an Arenado extension.

Here's how's Mark Feinsand put it:

Machado and Harper were expected to set that standard this winter, but the 26-year-old All-Stars have struggled to find deals they consider acceptable. According to a source, it's entirely possible that neither player signs before March, so it will be interesting to see whether the Rockies and Arenado announce an extension before either player signs a new contract.

"I wonder if Arenado is motivated [to sign an extension] due to those stars still being out there?" an AL executive said.

Should Arenado sign a new deal before either Machado or Harper, his AAV would figure to set an expectation for both free agents, who entered the offseason seeking contracts worth at least $300 million.

"It depends on the numbers, but I would expect the agents to fight to be above [Arenado's deal]," one AL general manager said.

The length of an Arenado extension would also likely come into play; the Rockies star will turn 28 on April 16, meaning a seven- or eight-year extension would take him into his mid-30s. With that in mind, that could strengthen Machado and Harper's stance on a 10-year deal, which would take the 26-year-olds to a similar age.

"It's just another data point for them to use to compare themselves," an NL general manager said. []

For the entire MLB marketplace, something of consequence happening would be a major lift for a free agency that has moved at a glacial pace — even with pitchers and catchers reporting to some teams in just TWO days.

Does a looming extension from Arenado give Machado and Harper's camps a little more motivation to negotiate more quickly — and thereby keeping more control over market value for a superstar offensive player? We haven't seen any movement yet, so apparently no. But the aftermath could have a positive impact if a deal gets done.

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