What’s funny is that, back in September/October, it would have been extremely reasonable to guess that Manny Machado was going to wind up with the Yankees in 2019, and Bryce Harper was going to wind up with the Giants. Those were absolutely teams that made sense on paper for various reasons, and serious pursuits were expected by those teams (albeit with many others as well.
Then, the offseason – in all its inglorious weirdness and unpredictability – happened. A few days ago, predicting Machado to the Yankees and Harper to the Giants would have been bizarre indeed.
And yet …
Never count out the Yankees. Even when they are crying poor and lingering under the luxury tax like a common big market team, you just don’t count them out.
— theScore (@theScore) February 9, 2019
Per Jim Duquette, the Yankees have remained in on the 26-year-old star free agent shortstop, despite their other additions this offseason and their signals that, hey man, we already spend a lot.
To be sure, the reported offer of seven or eight years and $220 million is far, far below the $300 million level Machado is reportedly still seeking, but it is apparently a competitive offer right now – Duquette indicates that there are several teams currently in that range (presumably the Phillies, White Sox, and Padres among them?). One unnamed team has already gone higher, according to Duquette, and the Yankees probably won’t be the high bidder when all is said and done. That’ll be a test of just how much Machado wants to be a Yankee.
[For what it’s worth, Duquette subsequently tried to walk back his comments, offering a distinction I don’t quite understand coming from a member of the media:
To clarify a report out there attributed to me, I was only speculating about a recent rumor that I had heard, not “reporting it as fact” .
— Jim Duquette (@Jim_Duquette) February 9, 2019
Either you heard that the Yankees made the offer and you deemed that information worth sharing, or you are “speculating” about an offer based on other things you’ve heard. I’m not sure you can say “I was told” about this offer, share that information on TV, and then later offer veiled criticisms of those who point out that you said it. If you want to speculate, cool, go for it. But this did not even remotely sound like speculation.]
In any case, this is a reminder that there easily could be so much more still going on behind the scenes with Machado and Bryce Harper than we know. Moreover, if Machado does ultimately see a contract north of $220 million, the final price tag on Harper could wind up in the $250 million to $300 million range, which seemed like a stretch recently, but was largely expected at the outset of the offseason.
Speaking of Harper, will he wind up landing that huge money from the rebuilding-adjacent Giants? Maybe so:
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) February 8, 2019
It seems the sides involved in this week’s surprise and lengthy meeting in Las Vegas came away feeling like there really might be something there. Sure, if the Giants actually aren’t all that serious, then it behooves both sides to play up their interest, driving up the price tag on other National League clubs. But with plenty of money and a new front office, why wouldn’t the Giants be a serious contender for a new franchise face as their former core ages up? With Harper, they could take another run at contention in the very near-term, then maneuver out some of their older pieces, mini-rebuild, and still have a 28/29/30-year-old Bryce Harper in place for the next competitive cycle.
Whether Machado winds up with the Yankees or Harper with the Giants, at least we’re seeing a little movement.