Last Saturday, the Phillies sent a party of team executives consisting of Owner John Middleton, GM Matt Klentak, Assistant GM Ned Rice, and sophomore skipper Gabe Kapler to meet with superstar slugger Bryce Harper, his wife Kayla, and renowned sports agent Scott Boras. The ever-important meeting took place in Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas and lasted roughly five hours, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Furthermore, the conference reportedly went swimmingly, leaving both Harper and the Phillies impressed as they concluded business in Sin City.
Although the Phils have yet to make a formal offer to the 26-year old phenom, they are now considered the ‘clear-cut favorites’ for his services following the lengthy meeting. Obviously, this is fantastic news for the Philly franchise. Adding Harper would not only severely hamper the rival Nationals by taking arguably the most talented player in their franchise history, but would drastically improve the Phillies current core. Somewhat concerning, however, is the sense amongst league insiders that a potential Harper deal would come at the expense of a similar pact with star infielder Manny Machado:
While acquiring either of the perennial all-stars would be a huge win for the Phillies, I don’t agree with dropping out of the Machado race if Harper is inked to a deal for a few reasons:
- The Phils, who finished 80-82 last season, desperately need the talent and have the money for both
- Both players are only 26-years old and could be apart of a dominant core for years to come
- Signing Harper doesn’t make the team World Series contenders and the team would still be in the hunt for another star anyway
- The ChiSox are practically the only remaining suitor for Machado aside from the Phils and don’t have nearly as much coin to offer
With loads of cash and a plethora of positions in need of upgrading, there is simply no reason for the Phillies to abandon the pursuit of one megastar for the other. In fact, a potential deal with Harper should only swell the team’s interest in Machado.
As I stated earlier, Harper isn’t the sole missing link between the Phils and the glory of a World Series title. A far cry from being an offensive juggernaut, the Phils finished dead last in hits and batting average last season. The team also recorded a bottom-ten finish in runs scored despite launching the fifteenth-most home runs in 2018. Plugging Harper and Machado, who hit a combined 71 HRs and 207 RBIs last season, into the lineup would dramatically improve the team’s offensive output and be well worth the cost.
The team’s reluctance to overcommit financially this offseason and potentially hinder future plans is understandable, and perhaps even wise, but I don’t think signing two of the better players the league has produced in the last decade would come back to bite them too much. The Machado-Harper saga is (finally) coming to an end soon and hopefully, both superstars are donning the red pinstripes when the dust settles.
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports