The Bryce Harper sweepstakes is ongoing. So, too, is the one involving Manny Machado.
The White Sox are in the mix for both 26-year-old free-agent superstars, who are expected to land a couple of the biggest contracts in baseball history.
With super agent Scott Boras at the wheel of the Harper negotiations, many are expecting Harper's to be the richest ever, but who will offer it? The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers - the former in on Machado, the latter in on Harper - aren't expected to hand out a contract that lasts a decade. The White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies are.
We already know the Washington Nationals did, with Harper reportedly turning down their 10-year offer worth $300 million. In referencing that choice, ESPN's Jeff Passan wrote that "the Phillies and White Sox are the other two teams known to be willing to guarantee Harper the decade-plus-long deal he and Machado ... are seeking."
That's a big deal, considering a big deal might end up the deciding factor in Harper's decision, as well as Machado's, for that matter. Money talks, as anyone who follows professional sports knows. Will it outweigh all other factors in these decisions?
The White Sox would seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to pitching the ability to win and win soon. The Yankees and Dodgers have plenty of recent success, with the Yankees fresh off a 100-win season, perhaps heading into the 2019 season as the preseason World Series favorites, and the Dodgers the back-to-back NL pennant-winners. The Nationals just added Patrick Corbin to a roster capable of contending, and the Phillies, despite a second-half slide, made huge strides in their own rebuilding effort and spent time in first place in the competitive NL East in 2018. The White Sox, of course, are coming off a 100-loss campaign and have mere plans of future success to pitch.
Of course, those plans are mighty intriguing ones, especially if you're looking for a place to spend the next decade of your career. The White Sox boast a loaded farm system and on-the-way talent like Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Luis Robert that could power contending clubs for years to come. Rick Hahn believes that's as good a pitch as any and said during the Winter Meetings that the White Sox have received positive feedback about their bright future from prospective additions.
But the team's financial flexibility might end up being an even stronger argument for one of these guys to come to the South Side. The rebuilding process hasn't just infused a wealth of talent into the minor league system, it's also made it so the White Sox have almost no long-term financial commitments to speak of. Given that, they have the ability to dedicate quite a bit of their long-term finances to a player like Harper or Machado. And apparently that ability is a little more than just the ability, with them reportedly willing to guarantee 10 years to Harper.
It doesn't end the discussion, though. The Dodgers, in the middle of a media capital like Los Angeles, can offer opportunities Harper wouldn't be able to find on the South Side, though he didn't seem to have any trouble being the face of baseball while playing for the Nationals. The Yankees, playing in New York and just generally being the Yankees, offer similar opportunities for Machado.
But when entering a derby in which the idea for the player is to get a really big payday, offering the biggest payday is only going to increase your chances of success. Does it make the White Sox the favorite in the Harper sweepstakes that they're willing to guarantee 10 years and an unspecified number of millions of dollars? No. But it makes them in it to win it.