Phillies

Manny Machado sweepstakes are set up for Phillies to win

Manny Machado sweepstakes are set up for Phillies to win

Updated: 5:30 p.m.

If Manny Machado is still the Phillies' preferred big-ticket free agent — and the belief here is that he is — there is no excuse for them not landing him.

We base this on some new reporting from Buster Olney of ESPN. Olney reports that the Chicago White Sox, considered the Phillies' main competitor in the Machado sweepstakes, have offered the player a seven-year contract worth $175 million.

This is remarkably low considering Machado — and the game's other mega free agent, Bryce Harper — entered the offseason looking for record deals of more than $300 million.

To put this in perspective, there are already 13 players in the big leagues on deals of $175 million or more.

The Phillies have deep pockets and they have been gearing for this offseason for several years. If the number cited in the ESPN report is true, then the Phillies undoubtedly will blow by it — they probably already have — and make the most lucrative offer to Machado. Even if the White Sox were to add a year and $25 million (the average annual value of their offer) to their pitch to Machado, the Phillies would have no trouble blowing by that. There are a dozen players in the majors making at least $25 million per season. This is hardly stupid money, to use the phrase that has become legendary in these parts.

So, it's time to lock this thing down and go get Machado, especially if that $175 million figure is accurate.

Of course, issues remain in the Phillies' pursuit of Machado.

One is the Yankees. Are they in or are they out? Sources say they like Machado but won't go crazy to get him. Well, the prices being cited are hardly crazy. Maybe even the Cardinals would jump in at the White Sox' number. But would either of these teams spend stupid money? Probably not. Advantage Phillies.

The other factor is Harper. The Phillies had a very nice get-to-know-you meeting with him Saturday in Las Vegas, but there has been no firm sign that he has zoomed past Machado as the team's preferred free agent and there has been no firm sign that Harper prefers the Phillies over other suitors.

What is undeniable is that the Phillies have long pursued Machado. Their front office has been angling for ways to get him for two years. They tried to get him in July and are pursuing him at the moment. Now comes news that the Phillies' chief competitor hasn't even reached $200 million in its offer. This thing is shaping up beautifully for the Phillies, a team whose greatest resource is just what Machado is looking for — money.

Now, none of this ensures that this drama is about to reach an end. Surely, Machado and his representatives can't be thrilled that the market for the player isn't, well, more lucrative. Surely, they will wait this thing out and try to push the price higher.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, issued a sharply-worded statement and called Olney's report false and reckless.

Surely, Harper will continue to look for something more than the $300 million he reportedly turned down from Washington and may or may not still have on the table.

Other than Olney's report today, things seem very quiet on the Phillies' pursuit of these top two free agents. At least not a lot of new information has been revealed. This quiet could signal that talks between the Phillies and Machado have reached a sensitive stage. Or maybe talks between the Phillies and Harper have reached a sensitive stage.

The guess here is that the Phillies are still on Machado and this thing is set up for them to win.

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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