Would you have believed at the outset of the offseason that both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would be unsigned the second week of January?
The pace of the MLB offseason has gotten harder and harder to predict, though there is a report from The Score's Bruce Levine in Chicago that Machado's decision could come within a week.
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"Machado is expected to make a decision within a week, sources said, as all three of the aforementioned teams (Phillies, White Sox, Yankees) have made bids and would like an answer soon," Levine wrote.
The expectation around the baseball world has been that Machado will sign first, before Harper. This follows that expectation because Harper is meeting with the Phillies in Vegas Saturday so you'd figure no decision from him would be made until Sunday or Monday at the earliest.
The Phillies continue to negotiate with Machado, and their desire to sign Harper would only increase if Machado signs with the Yankees or White Sox. If Machado does have his heart set on New York or Chicago, then the worst-case scenario would be Harper reaching a decision to sign elsewhere first, because then the Phillies would be left without a star.
The primary reason the Phils have prioritized Machado this offseason is that he's a difference-maker offensively and also defensively at third base. Improving the infield defense was crucial to the Phillies this offseason and the first step was acquiring Jean Segura to play shortstop. A left side of the infield with Segura and Machado could make a world of difference for Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin, as outlined here.
There are also, according to one reporter, signs that the Yankees may not be pursuing Machado as intensely as expected.
If true, that would change the equation for the Phillies. Stay tuned.
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