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January 24, 2019

Live free agency updates: Who are the Manny Machado 'mystery teams?'

Another day, and the wait continues as the baseball world has essentially been ground to a halt while waiting for the two biggest free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, to decide where they'd like to sign their next contracts. 

But at this point, we don't even know all the teams that are in the running for Harper and Machado, let alone what the players are thinking about where they'd like to spend the next seven to 10 years of their careers.

Over at MLBTradeRumors, writer Steve Adams essentially broke down where the entire league stood on Manny Machado in an effort to nail down the mystery team (teams?) interested in him — aside from the likes of the Phillies, White Sox and Yankees, the three teams already known to be aggressively pursuing the free agent infielder. 

What Adams was left with was six teams that could be waiting in the wings to pounce on Machado. Here's a look at three of those teams, including one NL East rival that would likely be a nightmare scenario for Phillies fans.

Angels: The Halos have larger priorities — namely, trying to extend Mike Trout — but it wouldn’t be that hard to fit Machado into the mix. Zack Cozart could be slotted in at second base to make room for Machado at third base. Recent comments from GM Billy Eppler have suggested that the Angels’ spending is likely near its max following the addition of Cody Allen, but they only have Trout under control for another two seasons. There’s every reason to try to maximize the chance of winning immediately, and the Albert Pujols albatross will be off the books after the 2021 season. If the Halos somehow find a way to extend Trout, they’d only be on the hook for all three mega-salaries for one season (2021). ...

Mets: The Mets’ infield is overcrowded as is — so much so that Jeff McNeil is likely to play in the outfield next season — so they’d have to make a move in order to fit Machado into the mix. But new GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been vocal about his win-now attitude, and shipping Todd Frazier off in order to open regular time for Machado at the hot corner isn’t outlandish. What could be outlandish would be the Wilpon family green-lighting a payroll north of $160MM, but even with all the moves they’ve made, it’s not that hard to see an on-paper scenario where Machado fits into the mix. ...

Twins: The Twins are the only team in baseball that doesn’t have a single dollar committed to any player in 2020. With a completely blank payroll slate, they’d have little problem fitting a major salary onto the long-term books. Looking at the 2019 roster, the infield appears full at first glance, but Machado is the type of player for whom a team should be willing to shuffle the deck. Miguel Sano could slide over to first base, pushing C.J. Cron to the bench role that Tyler Austin currently occupies. A $4.8MM bench bat would be an overpay for a team like the Twins, and owner Jim Pohlad would need to approve a record payroll by as much as $10MM for the upcoming season. That, however, would be a one-year expenditure before payroll naturally regressed. Meanwhile, the Indians aren’t improving, the Tigers and Royals aren’t threats to contend, and if any club should have an interest in keeping Machado away from the ChiSox, one would imagine it’d be a division rival.  []

Adams also mentions the Cardinals, Brewers and the Padres. Interestingly enough, the Padres were mentioned by Jon Heyman on Wednesday as potentially being one of the teams in on the Machado sweepstakes.

In other words, it's beginning to look more and more like the Phillies, White Sox and Yankees are hardly the only ones interested in adding Machado to their roster this winter. When he makes a decision and signs, of course, remains to be seen, but spring training is rapidly approaching, so we're definitely closer to the end than the beginning.

While we wait, here's a look at the latest free agency news and trade rumors from across Major League Baseball in our daily live updates post:

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