And then there was one.
Machado got $300 million over 10 years, enough to leave your mouth agape, enough to set a new free-agent record in baseball, enough to provide for generations of his family and the exact number both Harper and Machado were said to be chasing this offseason.
It’ll be a record until it isn’t anymore — which could be tomorrow or next week. Because Harper’s contract, whoever it’s with, should beat Machado’s. And the Philadelphia Phillies, the team that promised to spend “stupid money” this winter, might be feeling the most pressure now to woo Harper.
What we learned from Machado’s deal was pretty simple: Yes, 10 years is realistic, yes $300 million is realistic — even for a team that’s not in a major market or even a contender. The money is out there and you’re crazy if you think Scott Boras, Harper’s agent, isn’t about to go bring it home.
The Harper market isn’t overflowing in teams, but there’s still plenty to figure out. After all these months, we pretty much know the players, but if you’re catching up, here’s a rundown:
San Francisco Giants
Rumors about the Giants and Harper were hot and heavy recently, but it sounds like San Francisco wanted a shorter-term deal. If 10 years is in play, they’re probably not gonna walk away winners of the Harper sweepstakes.
Chicago White Sox
They were a down-the-ladder competitor for Harper, with their sights more on Machado. They might be even lower now that executive vice president Kenny Williams said they wouldn’t go up to $300 million for Machado.
New York Yankees
They’re the wild card in all this. Harper was a Yankees fan growing up, and would probably welcome the short porch in right field. Everybody has assumed for years that he’d sign with the Yankees, but they haven’t shown much, if any, interest. Thing is, we know if they wanted to, they could outbid every other team right now.
Harper’s old team reportedly offered him $300 million over 10 years before the season ended and he turned it down. We’ve heard varying reports about whether they’d go higher or about other offers on the table. It does sound like they’ll get a chance to match whatever deal Harper wants to take.
San Diego Padres
Would you believe it? According to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, the Padres aren’t necessarily out on Harper after getting Machado. Their payroll is still just $110 million. You could make the argument that they need pitching far more than they need an outfielder, but alas.
They promised big free-agent spending and haven’t yet delivered. They were chasing both Machado and Harper. Word out of Philly, however, is they wouldn’t match the Padres’ offer for Machado. Would they go above $300 million for Harper?
Truth is, the Phillies have both the most to gain by signing Harper and the most to lose if they don’t. If not Philadelphia, the next most likely destination is D.C., which would shake up the NL East. Right now, the Phillies, Braves and Nationals all look like contenders for the division title — but that’s without Harper.
Add Harper to one of those teams and they’re immediately the front-runner. So for the Phillies, the allure of Harper is three-fold: Become the premier team in the division and probably the National League, don’t let the Nationals get him, and deliver on the “stupid money” promise.
If not, and if this offseason just ends with the additions of J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and potentially spending the Harper money on someone like Dallas Keuchel, you can bet the Philly fans will remember the unkept promises.
And the only thing that might fix that is signing Mike Trout in 2021.
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