LAS VEGAS — The Phillies will have face-to-face meetings this week with the representatives for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the two megastars of this winter’s free-agent class.
The Phillies would like to sign Machado and play him at third base, according to sources.
They seem lukewarm on Harper but haven’t completely ruled him out.
Machado and Harper are both angling for the largest payday in baseball history — more than $325 million — and contracts like those take time to come together.
But the Phillies won’t wait forever.
“We’re not going to sit around and be held hostage by one or two players,” general manager Matt Klentak said on Day 1 of the winter meetings Monday. “If there are moves to make in the short term that make sense for us, we’re going to do that. If it works out that there are players that fit for us down the road and it makes sense, then great. But we’re not going to sit around and wait.”
It would not be surprising to see the Phillies move on a free-agent starting pitcher and an outfielder before Machado and Harper sign.
The Phils would like to add a lefty to their rotation and J.A. Happ is very much in their sights.
The Phils seem committed to upgrading in the outfield and there are indications that they could get a deal done with leftfielder Michael Brantley.
Happ is 36 and Brantley turns 32 in May. Neither would require anything close to the length of deal that a Machado or Harper would. Machado and Harper are both 26 and could command deals of up to 10 years. Two years and an option might get Happ done. Three years and an option might get Brantley.
“Ten years is sort of an arbitrary number, but I don’t like to ever rule us out of anything,” Klentak said. “I think in the history of the game, the mega contracts don’t tend to end very well and that’s not a secret. You really have to take it case by case whether you’re in the rebuild stage or the stage we’re in now. I think you have to stay open-minded and make sure you’re properly balancing the present and the future implications.”
The Phillies have the payroll flexibility where they could actually sign Happ and Brantley and still sign Machado.
“It's still very viable that we can and will add an additional outfielder,” Klentak said. “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.”
Could the Phillies make a move this week?
"I think there's a chance," Klentak said.
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