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February 19, 2019

Manny Machado to sign with Padres, putting pressure on Phillies to land Bryce Harper

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121418_Manny-Machado_usat Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

Manny Machado has reportedly signed with the Padres.

Finally, this baseball offseason is starting to really heat up. But it may not be the news Phillies fans were hoping for.

On Tuesday, word came down that star free agent Manny Machado would be signing a monster contract with the San Diego Padres, meaning the Phillies are halfway toward missing out on both the top-tier players they've been targeting this winter. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan was the first to report Machado to the Padres. 

Not only does this take away half the market for Phillies GM Matt Klentak, but it also give Harper's agent, Scott Boras, quite a bit of high ground in their ongoing negotiations. No longer can the Phillies hold an alternative option (Machado) over them in an effort to negotiate a better deal. 

Furthermore, the 10 years, $300 million that Machado appears to be getting from the Padres is even more than previously reported.

That puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of Klentak, Andy MacPhail and the rest of the Phillies decision makers to get a deal done, especially after owner John Middleton came out last year and promised the team would be getting "stupid" with their money this winter.

Sure, they've acquired J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and Andrew McCutchen — as well as extending staff ace Aaron Nola — but that's hardly considered stupid money, especially since the first two players listed arrived via trade. 

And the Phillies are well aware of what they must now do.


MORE: Live free agency updates: Does anybody actually know anything when it comes to Bryce Harper signing?


Now that the first of these two oversized dominoes has fallen, Harper could be close behind. Or not.

Of course, as previously mentioned, this deal hurts the Phillies in terms of bargaining power, which may be exactly what Boras was waiting for all along. With his client's biggest offseason competition out of the way, he can now hold competing execs hostage until he gets the deal he wants from one of them.

The decision on where to open the next decade of his career will ultimately come down to Harper himself. And if that's the case, the Phillies could be even further than we thought.

Unless, of course, that's just Boras leaking that information to try to get the Phillies to increase their offer. Stay tuned, because after what amounted to several boring months, this is just starting to get interesting.

[UPDATE, 12:54 p.m.] — While the general manager of the Padres has come out and said the team is still in discussions with Machado, Ken Rosenthal was there to immediately calm us down and remind us that this is likely only because the deal is not yet finalized (physicals, etc.). 

Whew.


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