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December 31, 2018

Live Phillies free agency updates: Who signs first, Manny Machado or Bryce Harper?

Like passengers on a plane circling their destination airport, Phillies fans are currently stuck in a holding pattern. But they're not alone in the skies.

Much of the baseball world is in wait-and-see mode as the two top free agents of the offseason, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, have yet to sign with a team, although there has been plenty of speculation — and some actual reporting — on the preferred landing spots of those two players. 

Machado, who visited Philly earlier this month during his three-city free agency tour, has already said that his decision will come in the new year, while Harper hasn't really given much of a clue as to when he'll sign his next contract, which could be the richest in history.

With today being the final day of 2018, it's a virtual lock that we won't get either decision until 2019. But who will sign first? Because in some ways, that first deal could impact the amount of dollars, years, or even the team with which the second player signs. Over at, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman tried to answer that exact question.

And both seem pretty confident it's going to be Machado, with Sherman giving him a 98 percent chance at signing first and Heyman putting the odds at 90 percent.

"We publicly know [Machado's] field," Sherman says. "We know it's going to be the White Sox, the Phillies or the Yankees, almost certainly. And once you define the field, I think you're up to the bidding process ... and it doesn't seem, from what we publicly know, that's the place where Bryce Harper is right now."

Which raises the question: While Machado already has visited Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where, exactly, is Harper in the decision-making process? "Right now, the Harper market is mostly a mystery," Heyman says.

Certainly sounds like Machado, who recently indicated he would wait until after the new year to make his choice, will be the first of these two superstar free agents to find a home. And by extension, that could mean Harper deliberately may be waiting to try to top whatever money Machado gets.  []

While it doesn't seem like any deal is imminent for either of those two players, especially with the holiday on Tuesday, they're not the only two players available. As we do every day, here's a look at the latest MLB trade rumors and free agency news from around Major League Baseball, especially the reports involving the Phillies. 

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