February 09, 2019
The Phillies have already packed up all their things and are headed south for the rest of the winter. Pitchers and catchers report for Philadelphia on February 13, with every other MLB team following suit and with position players following a week or so later.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — and nearly 100 other serviceable free agents — remain unemployed.
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, it's a staring contest and no one wants to blink:
The simple answer to why free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned is – duh! – teams have not offered them enough money.
The actual answer is more complex, but all sides bear responsibility for the delays. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, and Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, both are believed to be seeking at least $300 million. Neither wants to sign first, knowing once one of the players goes off the board, the other will benefit from gaining the sole attention of the remaining suitors.
The clubs, too, prefer to stall. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, for one, would prefer to chase the market rather than set it, according to sources. That way, he could avoid a bidding war, wait until the very end to hear the number he needs to reach, then decide whether he is willing to pay.
Other clubs seemingly are taking the same approach. The Phillies, sitting on “stupid money,” figure they will get one of the two stars, knowing they can top any offer. The Padres are acting more aggressively on Machado, sources say, but to what end if they ultimately get outbid?
Then there are the mystery teams. It’s reasonable to assume they exist on both players – the Padres jumped in on Harper last week, the Giants this week. The more teams that get involved, the more complicated the process will be. [The Athletic]
In other words, no one appears to really be in any rush — even though according to the calendar, they should be.
The logjam with Harper and Machado trickles down to players like Mike Moustakas, who plays Machado's position of third base, or to Adam Jones, stuck waiting for the outfield market to configure itself behind Harper.
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