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.