Phillies fans made it clear that they wanted Bryce Harper more than they wanted Manny Machado, and it’s entirely possible they could end up getting their way. All we know for sure right now is that Machado will play in Philadelphia next season, but only from Aug. 16-18 when he comes to town with the San Diego Padres.
Last summer when he came to Citizens Bank Park with the Baltimore Orioles, there were chants of “We want Manny.” Maybe this summer, those chants will change to “We never wanted Manny.” Or maybe the ballpark will be mostly empty if the Phillies fail to sign Harper, too.
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We can discuss any number of reasons that Manny Machado decided to sign with the Padres, a team that finished last in the National League West and lost 96 games last season.
Yes, the Padres have arguably the best farm system in baseball with 10 players listed among Baseball America’s top 100. And, yes, many of those players are nearing the big leagues, which could put the Padres in position to be vastly improved this season and contend next season. And, God yes, San Diego is one of the most beautiful places on the planet even if it never really has been much of a baseball town.
But, in the end, as we all expected, the money mattered most. At 10 years and $300 million, no team was willing to offer more than San Diego, which was a surprise to a lot of baseball people. All indications are that Machado will play mostly third base with the Padres after returning to shortstop with Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
Now that Machado is signed in San Diego, the Phillies must decide if they want to be the highest bidder for Bryce Harper because I guarantee you he is going to sign with the team that pays him the most money. Never forget that it is almost always about the money regardless of what a player or agent might say.
Columnist Marcus Hayes believes the Phillies lost out on the better of the two free agents Tuesday when Manny Machado agreed to his deal with the San Diego Padres. Hayes considers Bryce Harper the consolation prize and warns that Phillies fans who want Harper so much might be quickly turned off by his lack of hustle to first base on lazy fly balls.
It’s Harper or bust, I wrote, even if the Phillies would like to spin the narrative that they have had a fine offseason without the addition of either Machado or Harper.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak suggested Tuesday that there will be other superstar free agents for the Phillies to land if they fail to sign Harper. Our Scott Lauber believes the Phillies need to live in the moment and complete their all-in mission by signing Harper now.
Our Matt Breen set the scene at the four Carpenter Complex fields as word spread that Machado had agreed to a deal with the Padres.
Predictably, Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco was the happiest man in Clearwater, Fla., to hear that Machado was taking the money from the Padres because it meant he was going to continue to get most of the playing time at third base.
Our Katie McInerney put together a montage of social media responses to the Machado news.
David Murphy explains what he thinks it will cost to land Harper now that Machado has signed.
We’re launching a weekly podcast to guide you through the Phillies season from first pitch to game 162 — and maybe beyond.
Friday: Phillies play Grapefruit League opener vs. Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m.
Saturday: Phillies’ Grapefruit League home opener vs. Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m.
March 25: Phillies close out spring training at home vs. Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m.
March 28: Season opener vs. Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park, 3:05 p.m.
March 31: Phillies close out series with Braves on Sunday Night Baseball, 7:05 p.m.
Manny Machado’s 10-year, $300 million deal is the biggest free-agent contract in baseball history. His deal surpassed the 10-year, $275 million deal that Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees in December 2007. The biggest free-agent deal before that was also signed by A-Rod, who inked a 10-year, $252 million deal with Texas in February 2004.
According to BaseballReference.com, A-Rod made $441 million during his career, which might even be better than making it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Albert Pujols’ in-progress 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels is fourth on the list.
It took more than a decade for Machado to break A-Rod’s record, and it could take fewer than 10 days for Bryce Harper to break Machado’s record. Mike Trout, if he gets to free agency after the 2020 season, figures to shatter all money marks.
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Question: Is there a list of preseason games that will be televised and on radio? I’m from the Levittown, Pa. area. Please and thank you. — Douglas L., via email