Is this good news for the White Sox in their pursuits of two of the biggest names in baseball?
According to a report from the New York Post's Joel Sherman, neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado are big fans of Philadelphia, the home of the Phillies, one of the most logical landing spots for either of the two biggest prizes on this winter's free-agent market.
"Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia and both would have preferred the Yankees, who have shown little interest in Harper."
The Phillies vowed to spend "stupid" earlier this offseason and because of that declaration have seemed to be one of the most likely destinations for Harper and Machado. Machado just wrapped his free-agent tour last week in Philadelphia, a string of visits he kicked off on the South Side. That visit to Citizens Bank Park was, let's say, eventful, with Machado confronted by a shouting construction worker who told him to "do the right thing" and sign with the Phillies. And remember that at one point the Phillies seemed so likely a landing spot for Harper that one national writer said "book it."
But this latest bit of info in a saga that's stretched on for months and seems to feature new twists and turns every day could be good news for the White Sox.
Skeptical fans might roll their eyes at that notion, especially considering Machado's reported preference for the New York Yankees (mentioned by Sherman in that sentence above) and the blockbuster trade pulled off by the Los Angeles Dodgers that seemingly cleared room for a run at Harper. But Sherman points out that the Yankees and Dodgers might not be willing to offer up the kind of record-breaking contract it was expected would be necessary to land either of these guys. The White Sox and Phillies both have the financial flexibility to offer such contracts. So if neither necessarily likes the idea of signing up to spend a decade in the City of Brotherly Love, perhaps the South Side ends up the best option.
Sherman illustrates the option, too, of playing in New York or Los Angeles on a shorter deal and then cashing in on another round of free agency a few years down the road.
There's always the possibility of agents and teams steering the conversation, too. What better way to get teams to up their offers if they think the Phillies are out of the running?
The White Sox, meanwhile, have confidence in their pitch to these two 26-year-old superstars, that playing alongside Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Luis Robert for the better part of the next decade is as attractive as anything else. That and the aforementioned financial flexibility figure to make for a situation worth considering, even if other teams can offer immediate contenders.
There's still no finality to this in sight, and Machado's decision will reportedly wait until after the calendar turns to 2019. It would make sense that Harper's wouldn't come until then, too.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.