Phillies

Lessons and tidbits from the Manny Machado negotiations

Lessons and tidbits from the Manny Machado negotiations

It's reasonable to assume, given what we know about the Phillies' pursuit of Manny Machado and their unwillingness to go to $300 million to get him, that their best offer to him was in the mid-$200 millions over a slightly shorter term. 

Something in the $250 million range, perhaps higher, over seven or eight years — an enormous amount of money and also an average annual salary directly in line with what Machado will receive over 10 years from San Diego.

Such a deal would have netted Machado the highest per-year figure of any position player ever. In the end, he opted for the most guaranteed money and you can't blame him for doing so.

According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox offered Machado eight years and $250 million with options and incentives that could have taken the deal to $350 million. Those options, per USA Today, were two vesting options worth $35 million apiece. 

You can see why Machado opted for the guaranteed money over the possibility of earning more through options and incentives. Those options would have obviously been at the very end of his deal, and it wouldn't have been overly likely that he'd reach them by playing or producing enough at ages 33 and 34. In other words, the $60 million guaranteed Machado will earn in Years 9 and 10 of his Padres deal will probably be more than he could've gotten after eight guaranteed years from another club.

You can't fault a team like the Phillies or White Sox for not matching 10 years and $300 million. "What's the difference between $250M and $300M," some might ask, but it's a huge difference. Especially when the $50 million difference in question would be paid during the player's age-35 and age-36 seasons, which don't figure to be great years. Players do not age gracefully in their mid-30s the way they did during the Steroid Era. It's a major reason why the multi-year deal has disappeared for veteran, non-star free agents.

Beware the mystery team

A few more interesting tidbits about the Machado negotiation process, from Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The Padres did not emerge as an actual suitor for Machado until mid-January. It's yet another cautionary tale of why the connections made publicly aren't always the most meaningful. Everything about Machado-the-Padre now feels and sounds right, yet at the beginning of the offseason not a single person predicted it.

It's why you should be hesitant to instantly dismiss the words "mystery team" as an agent's construct. A lot of times, teams linger in the periphery and will be willing to pounce if everything lines up.

When will Harper sign?

By all accounts, Bryce Harper and Scott Boras are seeking a long-term deal, a similar length to what Machado received. But if the $300 million-plus offers for Harper do not materialize because fewer teams are in on him, Harper and Boras could change course and go shorter, which would bring more teams back into the fold. The complexity of this all is why a Harper signing might not be imminent. (Sorry.)

This process could end 20 minutes from now with a phone call, but there's also reason to believe it will plod along. Boras will find a way to extract top dollar even in an altered market. He almost always does.

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COVID-19 cases and player opt-outs mounting across MLB

COVID-19 cases and player opt-outs mounting across MLB

The Phillies have four players on the COVID-19 injured list (Hector Neris, Ranger Saurez, Scott Kingery and Tommy Hunter) and three more who have yet to arrive in camp because of coronavirus protocols (Aaron Nola, Adam Haseley and Christian Bethancourt).

We’re already seeing how unsteady and unpredictable this 60-game season will be. Nola is the Phillies’ best starting pitcher and Neris is their best reliever. Kingery is their starting second baseman. Haseley was set to start or split time in center field. Suarez was in the race for the fifth starter’s job.

So much for the Phillies would change without them, and it’s reasonable to expect at least a few of them will miss time early in the season. Phillies lefty Cole Irvin said Saturday he thinks it could take pitchers up to six weeks to return from coronavirus because it would require two weeks of quarantine, then the resumption of throwing, then a few bullpen sessions. The severity of cases varies, but it looks like it will generally cost pitchers more time than position players.

The best hitter in the NL East, Freddie Freeman, is also dealing with COVID-19 and is not feeling well at all right now, according to his wife Chelsea. Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters Saturday "it will be a while 'til we can get him back." It totally changes the Braves’ equation and 2020 chances if their rock is missing for a third of the season.

Will Smith, Atlanta’s top-tier lefty reliever signed to a three-year, $39 million in the offseason, also tested positive. Then on Saturday, Braves starting pitcher Felix Hernandez opted out of the season, as did their first base coach Eric Young Sr. Four Marlins players tested positive as well.

Yankees All-Star infielder D.J. LeMahieu tested positive.  So did Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Twins slugger Miguel Sano, Padres outfielder Tommy Pham and Indians speedster Delino DeShields Jr. Last week, Charlie Blackmon tested positive. There are at least another dozen known or suspected cases around the league with more, surely, to come.

On Friday, Mike Trout said "Honestly, I still don’t feel comfortable" about the season ahead with a pregnant wife.

On Saturday, Dodgers left-hander David Price opted out of the season because of health and family concerns, joining King Felix, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Leake and Joe Ross. Buster Posey is reportedly mulling the decision too.

Other than that ... decent first weekend of camp?

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Aaron Nola not in Phillies camp; will Zack Wheeler start opener?

Aaron Nola not in Phillies camp; will Zack Wheeler start opener?

It has been widely assumed that Aaron Nola will make his third straight opening day start when the Phillies begin their shortened 2020 season later this month.

But now you have to wonder if things might be shaping up for Zack Wheeler to make that start.

Nola has not participated in either of the Phillies' first two workouts since training camp opened — re-opened might be a better way to put it — on Friday.

"He is not here yet," manager Joe Girardi said Saturday. "We're trying to work our way through that."

Nola is said to be working out, throwing, locally. It's unclear why he has not worked out with the club, though many things are unclear in the age of COVID-19. Girardi is prohibited from discussing anything related specifically to COVID-19.

Center fielder Adam Haseley has also missed the first two workouts. He is also said to be working out locally, away from the team.

Girardi did say Haseley's absence was "due to a medical condition. We're trying to work through it and get him here."

Ditto for non-roster catcher Christian Bethancourt, who, despite being absent from the 60-man player pool, is still part of the organization, according to Girardi.

Already, the Phillies are without pitchers Ranger Suarez, Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris and second baseman Scott Kingery. All are on a special COVID-19 injured list.

If you're keeping score at home, the Phillies have yet to see their potential opening day starting pitcher, their second baseman and their center fielder. That's not exactly good for the strength-up-the-middle philosophy. At least shortstop Didi Gregorius worked out for the first time Saturday. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is in camp and working out, as well.

Given that Nola has been throwing, it's still possible he could make the opening day start in three weeks. But if he's delayed much longer getting into camp, Wheeler could jump in. The right-hander threw to hitters on Saturday and his next outing could come in an intrasquad game, according to Girardi. That could put him considerably ahead of Nola.

"I thought he looked pretty good," Girardi said of Wheeler's work on Saturday. "I think in a lot of ways, pitchers might be ahead of where they would be in a normal spring training when it comes to the volume, but what they're missing is having a hitter in there and competing. 

"That's what our concern is about, being sharp and being able to get out of jams and those sorts of things. But I thought he looked pretty good today. His next outing, I'm not sure what it'll be, if it'll be another bullpen, a simulated game, or even an intrasquad but he should be able to go further as long as he wakes up and feels good."

It's not a given that Wheeler would be the opening day starter if Nola doesn't get enough time to prepare with the team. Wheeler's wife is due to give birth around the time of the July 23 or 24 opener. He will leave the team for a few days to be with his wife. But if the birth doesn't happen until a day or two after opening day, Wheeler could make that start then slip away to be with his family and possibly not even miss a start.

More will be known in the coming days. But Nola's status is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Meanwhile, another player, former American League Cy Young winner David Price of the Dodgers, opted out of his season on Saturday because of concerns about COVID-19.

Girardi is still confident the season will get off the ground.

Time will tell.

"I think there's a lot of concern and I think that's why we continue to educate as much as we can," he said. "We continue to test every other day, there's temperature checks a number of times during the day. 

"It's players being socially responsible to themselves, to the people around them, and to their teammates. If you have a symptom, don't just assume 'Ah, I have a headache today. It's normal,' or 'I'm sneezing more than normal today. It's my allergies.' You have to be completely honest in all of these questionnaires that we fill out or you jeopardize everyone in the room. It is a concern, yes."

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