GLENDALE, Ariz. — After the White Sox missed out on Manny Machado, a common reaction was, "Well, Bryce Harper is still out there looking for work."
Well, it appears the White Sox won't be turning their attention to the other big name on this offseason's free-agent market, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale reporting Wednesday that they are out on Harper.
The Chicago #WhiteSox, who are out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, still plan to make some smaller improvements to team after Manny Machado chose the #Padres. Versatile infielders Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison, along with starter Gio Gonzalez, still on the free-agent board.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 20, 2019
The White Sox did pursue Harper earlier this offseason, reportedly meeting with him twice in the final months of 2018. But after pitching him on the organization's bright future, it's been all quiet on the Harper front over the past couple months.
Nightengale reporting that the White Sox aren't chasing Harper isn't shocking in the wake of Tuesday's Machado news. It was reported that they offered Manny Machado $250 million (as part of a contract that could have ended up being worth $350 million), which was turned down in favor of the offer from the San Diego Padres, worth a reported $300 million, all guaranteed. Harper, a bigger brand if not a better player, figures to command more.
Between a seeming focus on Machado and an admitted preference to not go to $300 million guaranteed with Machado, the White Sox not being in the mix for Harper makes sense. And so an offseason defined by the team's pursuits of the two biggest names on the market looks likely to end without either ending up on the South Side.
As for the rest of Nightengale's tweet, that the White Sox are still looking to add to the roster before Opening Day, that's something Rick Han confirmed Tuesday, saying he was working on moves in the car ride from Camelback Ranch to Cactus League media day in downtown Glendale.
But while Nightengale lists some of the next-best free agents still available — Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison and Gio Gonzalez — that doesn't mean the White Sox have interest in those specific players. They might, and all three would bring obvious value in the immediate. But there does not figure to be a traditional "Plan B" now that the White Sox have missed out on Machado, where they would try to sign the next-best player as a consolation prize. More likely are smaller moves that help with short-term needs, such as a spot in the starting rotation or more help in the bullpen.
White Sox fans — not to mention Hahn himself — are obviously disappointed over the end result of the Machado sweepstakes. But there's no scrambling for Harper or any other big name to put out social-media anger. Instead, the rebuild remains on track, full steam ahead.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manny Machado is about to be a San Diego Padre. The White Sox are looking likely to start the 2019 season without a monster free-agent addition. And fans are not at all happy.
So what do the guys in the clubhouse have to say? Are they glad this whole thing has come to an end?
“F**k yeah,” Tim Anderson said Wednesday. “S**t, maybe y’all can stop asking me now.”
For months, these guys have been peppered with questions about Machado and the team’s ongoing pursuit of one of the two big names on this year’s free-agent market. They’ve answered them as you’d expect: Machado, his immense talent and his All-Star production would be welcome, but if he goes elsewhere, that’s fine, too.
If you’ve been on Twitter since Tuesday’s news broke, you know that’s hardly the same opinion as the White Sox faithful.
Anderson has been one of the more distinct voices in this whole thing, however, as it was potentially his job as the starting shortstop that might have been handed to Machado had the White Sox signed the 26-year-old superstar. He told Our Chuck Garfien at SoxFest that “shortstop is mine” and said that he’s worked too hard for fans to give his job away to someone else.
So it will come as little surprise that Anderson is happy to be done talking about Machado.
“I could (not) care less about (Bryce) Harper and Machado’s situation,” Anderson said. “I know where we’re headed. We have a great group of guys here.
“We’re going to be South Side regardless. Nobody’s decision determines what we’ve got going on in this locker room. I feel we have a great group of guys here. We’re going to do something special. The White Sox are moving in the right direction. One decision won’t dictate our season.
“We’re going to keep rolling. Either ride with us or get run over. We know who’s on the boat with us and which way we want to sail.”
Yonder Alonso had a less fiery approach than Anderson, not a surprise considering Machado’s his brother-in-law and he’s happy for him.
But one of the newest White Sox echoed Anderson’s comments when it came to talking about the guys currently in the room, currently on this roster, and spoke about the big expectations that have been the theme of the early weeks of spring training.
“Inside this room, the 60-plus players, plus the coaching staff, the front office, it’s always been about the guys in here,” Alonso said. “It’s been about going out there and getting better every single day and taking care of one another. I think the media, at times, can maybe pull out a different take on things, but I know for us inside this room, we’re all one and we’re all together.
“You say (the talent is) coming, but I think it’s here. At some point here, enough is enough. We feel like right now is the time, and we feel like not only is it the time right now but it’s the time going forward in the stage where we’re at. I think we’re hitting that peak where you’re going to see a lot of guys here for a lot of years doing great things.”
The ability to focus on baseball, focus on the upcoming season, now that the unfinished business is, for better or worse, finished would seem to be a benefit to this group of players. As general manager Rick Hahn has said all along, no one player is going to define the rebuilding process. And so these players, a part of this process for varying amounts of time into the future, are ready to continue on the track they’ve been on this whole time.
And they’re probably happy to be done with these questions, right, Yonder?
“What do you think?” he said with a laugh.