The oddsmakers in Las Vegas had already made the Phillies the leaders in the race to land Bryce Harper, but one week of free agency was enough to push the momentum even more in the Phillies' direction. This is not the free-agent market — instead, agent Scott Boras cleverly coined it "Harper's Bazaar." And the Phillies seem to be the favorites at this fashion show.
You're signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Thursday during the Phillies' offseason and every weekday during their season. If you like what you're reading, tell your friends it's free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @matt_breen. Thank you for reading.
— Matt Breen (email@example.com)
Rhys Hoskins could return to first base
As the Phillies begin their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, they are also starting to reveal that they'll be introducing a new first baseman in 2019. Rhys Hoskins, after a season in left field, seems headed back to first in at least a part-time role.
The Phillies moved Hoskins full time to left field after signing Carlos Santana. Hoskins had not played left field since college, and the transition was not easy. He said at the end of the season that he prefers to play first base. The Phillies listened.
"I think right now we would probably be looking at Rhys playing some left and some first and Carlos playing some third and some first, as opposed to this year where it was close to 100 percent of the time Rhys in left and Carlos at first," general manager Matt Klentak told reporters at the general managers' meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. "I think we would try to position those players based on who is on the mound for us. And I don't know exactly what that distribution would be, but I think we would be open to both guys' playing a couple of different spots."
The Phillies tried Santana at third base late in the season, as he played the position for the first time since 2014. Hoskins' return to first base will also be motivated by the team's ability to sign Harper. With Harper in right field, the Phillies could play Nick Williams in left and Roman Quinn or Odubel Herrera in center. It would be hard to imagine Hoskins at first base regularly unless the Phillies add another outfielder this winter.
"I think Rhys is a team player and he showed that last year because he's established now. He can play left field in the major leagues at a competent level," Boras, also Hoskins' agent, told reporters at the GM meetings. "I think if anyone would ask what Rhys' highest exponential would be, it would obviously be he does well on dirt and that he's certainly welcomed to that. But I think Rhys will do whatever is best for the club and as Gabe [Kapler] and Matt direct him. That's what he'll do."
Harper enters free agency with a bazaar while Machado hits the market after acting a bit bizarre. His takeout slides, leg kicks, and "Johnny Hustle" comments have brought him the most attention, but that is not enough to dissuade the Phillies, Scott Lauber writes. "If you're trying to find the young free agent who's good at everything and a prince in the clubhouse, you're going to be looking for a long time," Klentak said.
The Phillies have a ton of money to spend this winter, but it does not sound as if they will be spending it to acquire both Harper and Machado. Doing that, Scott Lauber writes, would limit the Phillies' flexibility in future years. "It's a pretty bad feeling to go into an offseason knowing that you have things you need to address and not having the financial resources to do it because your money is tied up in players," Klentak said.
The Phillies will look this winter to add a left-handed starter, and Lauber took a look this week at some of the options the Phillies could land via trade. Number one on the list: San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner.
Charlie Manuel has a shot at the Hall of Fame after he was named this week to the "Today's Game Era" ballot, which includes 10 candidates. A committee will vote on the candidates and announce its decision on Dec. 9.
Tomorrow: Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana play second of seven games with MLB All Stars in Japan, 4:05 a.m.
Nov. 12: Rookie of the Year Award announced, 6 p.m.
Nov. 13: Manager of the Year Award announced, 6 p.m.
Nov. 14: Cy Young Award announced, 6 p.m.
Nov. 15: MVP Award announced, 6 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Cy Young Award winners will be announced next Wednesday, and Aaron Nola is one of the three National League finalists. Nola is the first Phillies homegrown pitcher to finish in the top three of the voting since the award was introduced in 1956. The Phillies have had four Cy Young winners: Steve Carlton, John Denny, Steve Bedrosian, and Roy Halladay. Nola is up against Jacob DeGrom of the Mets and Washington's Max Scherzer.
From the mailbag
Question: If they can't get both, who should the Phillies sign: Harper or Machado — Joe B., email
Answer: Thanks, Joe. I think it's an easy answer: Harper. You can make the argument that both are equally talented, but when it comes to star power, Harper is baseball's equivalent of LeBron James. Just imagine the buzz in the city if the Phillies land Harper next month. The Phillies are desperate to be back in the city's mindset. There's an easy way to do it, and that's by signing Bryce Harper.