Manny Machado pulled up to Citizens Bank Park in a silver SUV just before noon on Thursday and immediately received some advice from a man who had been working at a construction site across the street.
"Do the right thing and sign!" the man, identified as Tom Cudeyro, a Phillies fan from South Jersey, shouted. "Get the money!"
Machado was greeted at the front door by Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler.
The Phillies hope Machado does what Pete Rose, Jim Thome and Cliff Lee did before him. They hope he signs with the club as a free agent and they planned to make their desire to have him clear during a face-to-face meeting at the ballpark that was scheduled to last several hours.
Ultimately, money will do the talking. Machado and Bryce Harper, the other mega free agent on the market, are in a stare down to see who can land the winter's biggest deal — and, for that matter, maybe the biggest deal ever, something that could eclipse $300 million.
The Phillies surely have the interest in Machado. They envision him gobbling up balls at third base and hitting for average and power in the middle of their lineup for many years. They also have the money to get him. The question is: Can they beat out the New York Yankees for Machado's affection and his signature? Machado, 26, has long dreamed of playing for the Yankees and they can offer him the chance to play shortstop, his favorite position, at least at the beginning of his contract as incumbent shortstop Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery.
The Phillies might have to outbid the Yankees for Machado, but they seem willing to do that. If they strike out on Machado, they could become more serious about signing Harper. But right now, Machado is clearly the Phillies' focus because, in addition to having huge offensive impact, he would have huge defensive impact at third base, more than Harper would in right field.
Machado visited with White Sox officials in Chicago on Monday and Yankees officials in New York on Wednesday. He arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, posed for a picture with Cudeyro, the construction worker/fan, and made his way through a phalanx of cameras on his way to the ballpark entrance.
Machado was to spend several hours visiting with Phillies officials. He and his wife, Yainee, were to have lunch in a suite overlooking the field and Machado's image on Phanavision. A tour of the clubhouse and other ballpark facilities was planned. The Phillies' welcoming party included Klentak, Kapler, managing partner John Middleton, club president Andy MacPhail, assistant general manager Ned Rice, hitting coach John Mallee and bench coach Rob Thomson. Surely, there would be a give and take, with Machado asking questions about the team's direction and team officials asking about the controversial "Johnny Hustle" comments that he made in October.
Dinner, at an undisclosed location, was planned in the evening and Machado is scheduled to return home to Miami on Friday morning.
With the recruiting visits coming to an end, Machado and agent Dan Lozano will start to dig deeply into teams' actual offers and then it's decision time.
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