Phillies

Phillies agree to 3-year deal with Andrew McCutchen

Phillies agree to 3-year deal with Andrew McCutchen

Updated: Wednesday, 8:40 p.m.

LAS VEGAS — The Phillies have agreed to a three-year, $50 million contract with free-agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

The Phillies hold a club option for a fourth year.

General manager Matt Klentak has acknowledged a desire to upgrade the outfield and much attention has been focused on free agents Bryce Harper and Michael Brantley.

The Phillies appear to be only lukewarm on Harper — from the megastar free-agent category, they prefer infielder Manny Machado.

McCutchen is added to an outfield mix that includes Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr.

"It's still very viable that we can and will add an additional outfielder," Klentak said Monday. "The guys that we have there right now have demonstrated with their talent or their production that every one of them is probably a candidate for regular reps in certain circumstances. But I do think outfield is an area where we could add."

McCutchen is 32. He won the National League MVP award with Pittsburgh in 2013 and picked up a Gold Glove in the outfield in 2012.

McCutchen spent most of last season with the San Francisco Giants. He was traded to the New York Yankees late in the season and hit .253 with a .892 OPS in 25 games. For the season, he hit .255 with 20 home runs and a .792 OPS.

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The Phillies' competition for Bryce Harper after Manny Machado reportedly agrees to deal with Padres

The Phillies' competition for Bryce Harper after Manny Machado reportedly agrees to deal with Padres

Updated: 2:15 p.m. 

With Manny Machado off the board, so too are the Padres in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Are the Phillies just bidding against themselves at this point?

Let's take a look at the rest of the market:

White Sox

The White Sox richest reported offer to either player this offseason was in the range of $200 million. Aside from not being able to offer the most money, the White Sox offer even less of a chance to win now than the Padres. Harper is uber-competitive, so you would think this matters.

White Sox executive VP Ken Williams said this:

Telling.

Here's what White Sox GM Rick Hahn had to say:

These do not sound like the comments of a team that thinks it has a chance to land Harper.

These do not sound like the comments of a team that thinks it has a chance to land Harper.

Nationals

You learn in this business to never say never, especially when it comes to high-priced negotiations that can change at a moment's notice. 

The Nationals, by word and deed, appear to have moved on from Harper. They have a good outfield even without him — Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, top prospect Victor Robles — and also must worry about paying underrated star Anthony Rendon when his contract expires after 2019. 

Rumblings about Harper's work ethic also leaked out of the Nationals' spring training clubhouse earlier this week. 

Washington's payroll is nearing $200 million and is precariously close to exceeding the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. The Nats do, however, have about $60 million coming off the books after 2019.

That said, the Phillies should be able to top Washington's offer, especially since all of the Nats' highest-priced players have deferrals in their contract. The Phils should be able to close a deal without deferring any of the money. Deferral vs. non-deferral should be an easy decision for any player.

If money means the most to Harper, the Phillies have the clear advantage. If it's a combination of money and comfort, you can't just outright eliminate the Nats.

Giants

The Giants have reportedly only been interested in giving Harper a shorter-term deal. At this point, especially after Machado got a 10-year contract from the Padres, it would be extremely surprising if Harper went that route. It might look like a loss, which Scott Boras is rarely willing to take.

The Giants were a team to worry about because of the affinity Harper and his wife Kayla have for the Bay Area and because of his friendship with guys like Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey. 

But again, the Giants just aren't a win-now team. They won 73 games last season and their top players are aging out of their primes. Posey is no longer the elite offensive option he once was. Madison Bumgarner, a free-agent at season's end, is no longer the unquestioned ace he once was. 

San Francisco is also a tough place to hit. Harper's numbers there would probably be worse than they were at Nationals Park (which plays mostly neutral but hitter-friendly when it's warm) and at Citizens Bank Park.

The pressure is on the Phillies' front office to get this done. The biggest roadblocks at this point would be an 11th-hour mystery team emerging, or a genuine hesitance from Harper to play in Philadelphia. There's no real indication he doesn't want to be in Philly other than this tweet, which could also be a mere ploy by Boras to get the Phillies to boost their offer one final time.



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Data proves Phillies fans want Bryce Harper over Manny Machado

Data proves Phillies fans want Bryce Harper over Manny Machado

Manny Machado is off the board and headed to San Diego, according to reports (see story), and the collective reaction from Phillies fans seems to be “we wanted Harper anyway.”

We have data that actually backs that up.

Since this offseason’s free agency began, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado's names have been on the tips of every Phillies fans' tongues and, by many accounts, the Phillies were genuinely interested in Machado, but the fans weren’t that interested, especially recently.

Here’s what the data had to say.

What does it mean? This chart is a visualization of search frequency data from Google in Philadelphia. Google assigns a number, 1-100, to show how popular a given search term is. In the graph above, the blue line represents searches for “Manny Machado, Phillies," the red line represents search data for “Bryce Harper, Phillies.” Since the final day of the 2018 MLB season, "Bryce Harper, Phillies" has been searched 4.5 times more in Philadelphia than his mega free agency counterpart. Over the past week, that number jumps to 18 times more.

It’s clear that Harper, and not Machado, is the guy that Phillies fans want. We'll have to keep waiting to see if it happens.

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