The Philadelphia Phillies took a huge step forward this season, and the team currently sits three games above .500, which gives them a lot to build on.
That’s a huge improvement from where the team was at last season, as the team finished with a 66-96 record.
That projects well for the future, with the Phillies being a young, talented team, that also has a lot of money to spend. It’s clear that the front office is going to empty their wallets this offseason — with only $69 million in contracts owed to players next season — in hopes of making a big splash. The question is who will the team target?
Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent, is clearly at the top of their list. And on paper, he makes sense. The Phillies can certainly make room for an outfielder, and they need a big bat in their lineup. Harper has already played in the NL East, would only have to relocate a few hours from Washington D.C., and would still get the benefit of playing for a big-market team/major city.
A report from Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests the Phillies have a great shot at landing Harper. Heyman spoke to 10 MLB executives, and many were optimistic that the Phillies could land Harper. Not only that, a few of them suggested the team could land both Harper and Dodgers slugger Manny Machado, who like Harper, is currently playing out a one-year deal.
“The rival execs are convinced that they could get both superstars, but that one or the other is almost a fait accompli,” Heyman wrote.
Heyman went to make connections between Machado and the Phillies, so there are clearly ties to the organization.
In Machado’s case, there are personal connections, as Phillies execs Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, Ned Rice, Scott Proefrock and others were all in Baltimore when the O’s selected Machado with the No. 3 overall pick.
It seems highly unlikely that the team would be able to land both players, given the bidding war that will likely ensue. Nearly one-third of MLB teams will probably be in the mix for each player.
The interesting caveat here is that both Machado and Harper are represented by superagent Scott Boras. It would suit Boras well to have both clients on the same team — as the Nationals have had a number of his clients on their roster over the past few seasons — but in order to get the most money, it would make sense for them to be on separate teams.
Either way, the time of year known as “MLB hot stove” isn’t too far away, so stay tuned.