One down, one to go. Yesterday, star infielder and 4x All-Star Manny Machado inked a monstrous 10-year, $300M pact with the San Diego Padres- the largest contract in American professional sports history to date. Although the team of choice is somewhat surprising, the hefty price tag is not, as Machado’s camp has been adamant about signing a deal in the $300M range all offseason.
The record-breaking deal may not hold its rank for long, however, as national insiders suggest that top remaining free-agent Bryce Harper could receive an even larger contract. Harper, of course, has been linked heavily to the Phillies all offseason. With Machado now signed, renowned agent Scott Boras now has a template for his superstar client and likely has his eyes locked on the Phils and all the ‘stupid money’ in their deep pockets.
On the surface, it may seem as though Scott Boras is now positioned to take advantage of a desperate Phillies team and wring them out for every dollar in the vault. Now that Machado is a Padre, Harper is the only remaining franchise player on the free-agent market and Boras knows the Phillies badly want to add more firepower to the lineup. Boras also knows that the Phillies are in win-now mode- due to both their public statements and trade for all-star catcher J.T Realmuto- and that Bryce Harper is the only remaining free-agent capable of propelling them to the postseason.
Lastly, Boras is also aware that the Phillies recently traded away their top prospect Sixto Sanchez in the aforementioned trade for Realmuto and don’t have the pieces necessary to pull off a trade for a difference maker, and as a result pretty much have no choice but to find their desired star in free agency- aka his prized client Bryce Harper.
While all this is true, I think Phillies GM Matt Klentak is in an almost equal position of power as the hard-nosed Boras. Harper and Machado had the same suitors for the most part, and once the Machado news broke many of those teams claimed that the price tag was just too rich for their taste- including the Phillies:
So to recap, the White Sox simply couldn’t reach or exceed that $300M mark without an incentive-laden deal, the Yankees (whom Machado desired to play for) never even made a formal offer, and the affluent Phillies simply didn’t feel he was worth the price. Although Machado finally received the record-setting deal he sought after, it took nearly the entire offseason and it came from one of the most irrelevant franchises in the league who simply had nothing to lose. While Harper certainly has his suitors, I doubt there are more than two franchises (including the Phillies) that are actually willing to meet or exceed the Machado figures to ink the star outfielder.
Klentak must continue to be patient and realize that the team isn’t in as much danger of losing out on Harper as Boras will undoubtedly try to lead him to believe. There simply isn’t another team in the league that can offer the kind of coin that Philly can and it’s seemingly only a matter of time before Boras is done holding his breath for some fantasy deal to be offered from elsewhere. Klentak has done an excellent job of exercising his financial position of power and if he continues to do so, Bryce Harper will be a Phillie when it is all said and done. Let’s just hope that he keeps a cool head in baseball’s biggest game of ‘chicken’ to date.