Harper and Machado to Philly?

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, right, greets Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) before an interleague baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, right, greets Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) before an interleague baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Philadelphia sports teams have been busy trying to acquire superstars.  The Eagles traded to acquire 3-time pro bowler Michael Bennett.  The 76ers tried to acquire LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard in the offseason and just recently traded for all-star Jimmy Butler.  And the Flyers went out and brought back James van Riemsdyk.  It is now the Phillies turn.  They signed Jake Arrieta last offseason but are looking to get much bigger fish this offseason.

Those big fish being perennial all-stars, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.  Harper won the MVP back in 2015 and has settled in as the Nationals right fielder.  At only 26 years, he will be looking for a long-term contract in the 10-year range.  Machado started off the 2018 season with the Orioles before being traded to the Dodgers in July.  Machado is also 26 and just came off possibly his best offensive season and is one of the best defensive infielders in the game at third base and shortstop (expressed desire to play shortstop).

The Phillies have expressed interest in both players in attempts to improve their everyday starting lineup.  Owner John Middleton has spoken about how dedicated the team is to sign one, if not both players.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” Middleton said according to USA Today Sports.

However, will Harper and Machado decide to come to Philly.  I personally believe that neither will suit up in the red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day 2019.

Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper follows the flight of his double off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Chris Rusin in the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Denver. The Rockies won 12-0. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

I think Harper will dress in the navy-blue pinstripes of the Yankees instead.  The Yankees are like the Lakers of the MLB.  They have the history, the championship banners, a big stage, and all the former legends that played for them.  Harper would fit right in and build the new Murderers’ Row in New York as the Yankees already have Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen (has to re-sign), and Gary Sanchez along with last year’s rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.  This lineup has the potential to become the best lineup ever in MLB history.  Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, said Harper would be open to playing first base so that the Yankees could maintain their starting outfield.  However, if the Yankees are smart, they will keep Harper in his right field position and move the 6’7” 282-pound Judge to first base.

Now the destination that I think Machado will choose might surprise you.  I think Machado will stay close to LA and travel 45 minutes down the road to play for Angels.  The Angels have shown they are not afraid to go after big free agents.  In 2011, they signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.  One year later they signed Josh Hamilton for $125 million.  And in the past two years, they acquired Justin Upton and signed Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani while still trying to extend Mike Trout.  Machado would have to play third base since the Angles have perennial gold glove winner and former platinum glove winner Andrelton Simmons at shortstop.  The Angels would benefit extremely from signing Machado.  They have been heavily scrutinized for wasting Mike Trout’s talent and not being championship contenders.  If they sign Machado, it would be a clear sign from the front office that the Angels of Anaheim are ready to compete now.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Machado watches his single to deep left during the sixth inning in Game 3 of the World Series baseball game against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Now Phillies fans don’t worry, the offseason can still be a major success even without Harper or Machado.  The Phillies need to go out and get pitching before anything else.  They should pursue former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel as a number two starter.  Then perhaps Nathan Eovaldi or J.A. Happ to solidify the rotation.  And this is one of the best free agent classes when it comes to closers and the Phillies need to capitalize. The Phils’ need to pursue closers Zack Britton and Craig Kimbrel hard.

And even with the offensive struggles last year (ranked 22nd in the league in runs scored), I believe the Phillies lineup is not too bad.  Their young guys will have to continue to develop and that comes with time.  They should definelty look for an everyday shortstop and that can be accomplished by putting a package together, perhaps including J.P. Crawford, and acquiring Jean Segura from the Mariners.

Phillies fans be hopeful that the Phillies can sign Harper or Machado but don’t be disappointed if they don’t.  With a few pieces here and there, along with developing players and manager learning as he goes, it won’t be too long until the Phillies are back in championship contention.