If no news is good news, than the White Sox have received a whole lot of good news this winter, because they're still waiting on the free-agent decisions of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
They're still in the hunt for the top two names on the free-agent market, a pair of 26-year-old superstars with the ability to transform the franchise. But the ongoing chase for the services of Harper and Machado now seem likely to drag past the opening of White Sox camp Wednesday in Glendale, Arizona. How long will they drag on past that?
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, this is a "staring contest" between agents Scott Boras (Harper) and Dan Lozano (Machado) in which neither side wants to blink first.
"Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, and Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, both are believed to be seeking at least $300 million," Rosenthal wrote. "Neither wants to sign first, knowing once one of the players goes off the board, the other will benefit from gaining the sole attention of the remaining suitors."
That $300 million wish, at least in the case of Machado, seems almost laughable at this point. The only offer with reported details out there is the one that came from the White Sox, and depending on who you believe, it might be worth $175 million over seven years. Lozano was quick to deny that, not a surprise considering it's about half the amount it was expected Machado could demand at the outset of the offseason. Other reports talked of an eight-year deal worth $250 million, but a flurry of follow-up reports countered that figure as untrue.
It makes you wonder that if Lozano is really waiting for a $300 million offer for Machado, is he ever going to stop waiting?
Harper, meanwhile, supposedly received an offer worth $300 million from the Washington Nationals, an offer that was reportedly rejected. Again, the total Harper expected to command at the start of the offseason was $100 million bigger. There have been no other reported offers out there for Harper, though the White Sox reportedly met with him twice during the final months of 2018. The Phillies met with Harper this winter — and continue to be described as the most likely landing spot — and the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants met with him in recent weeks.
It was reported that Machado will take the highest offer, though if the one from the White Sox is currently the highest, it makes you wonder what he's waiting for. The obvious answer would be that he's waiting for more money, a richer offer than the one currently on the table. For White Sox fans wondering why the team doesn't just up their offer and get this over with, what would they have to gain by doing so? If they can eventually get the player at the current price, why would they pay more? Rosenthal described the White Sox unwillingness to get into a bidding war:
"White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, for one, would prefer to chase the market rather than set it, according to sources. That way, he could avoid a bidding war, wait until the very end to hear the number he needs to reach, then decide whether he is willing to pay."
That seems to indicate that there might be wiggle room to increase the final contract offer and that the White Sox are not in a "take it or leave it" situation with what's currently on the table. But again, there's perhaps no one to bid against except themselves at the moment, and it would be foolish to do that.
Of course, the White Sox remain committed to landing a premium talent, with general manager Rick Hahn saying at SoxFest that he hopes to dispel of the notion that the team won't pay top dollar to acquire an impact player of this stature. Any willingness to adjust the final number to beat out another suitor would seem to reinforce that seriousness.
The final piece of the puzzle could be the Phillies, who have been obvious players in both of these sweepstakes all winter. But there haven't been any reported details of offer coming out of the City of Brotherly Love. Rosenthal wrote that the Phillies "figure they will get one of the two stars, knowing they can top any offer." That seems to be news you can use, especially if Machado and perhaps Harper are focused solely on taking the richest contract available.
But until then, the "staring contest" analogy seems apt. Nothing is happening, and the baseball world is waiting for someone, anyone to blink.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.