Phillies

Phillies will meet with agents for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but won’t wait forever

Phillies will meet with agents for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but won’t wait forever

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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Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

SAN DIEGO — The beginning wasn’t easy for Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia and neither was the end. He was booed before managing his first game in Citizens Bank Park in 2018. Eighteen months later, he twisted in the wind for 10 days as Phillies ownership pondered whether to bring him back for the 2020 season or let him go.

Eventually, Kapler was fired but he wasn’t out of work long as the San Francisco Giants hired him to manage their club in November.

At the winter meetings Tuesday, Kapler recalled waiting for John Middleton’s verdict over those uncomfortable final 10 days in Philadelphia.

“Those ten days were challenging because I definitely wanted the opportunity to continue to manage the Phillies,” Kapler said. “I wanted to see the work that we put in, and I wanted to see it through the finish line. In my mind, that finish line was still in the future and in the distance, and I think there's going to be a lot of great things accomplished in Philadelphia next year.

“But it was difficult, and sometimes there's a real silver lining to those situations. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got a great manager in Joe Girardi in place, and I think I have an opportunity to manage a club that I'm incredibly excited about, and the people that I'm working with, I'm really excited about as well. So I think, interestingly, even though it was challenging, those 10 days, it worked out pretty well for the Phillies, and I think it worked out really well for the Giants as well.”

Kapler was asked what he said to Middleton upon learning that he would not return to manage the Phillies.

“The last words were 'thank you for the opportunity,' ” he said.

Kapler was asked how he might have been able to save his job in Philadelphia.

“Probably win more baseball games,” he said.

Kapler’s record in Philadelphia was 161-163. He learned a lot in those two seasons.

“I think the thing that stands out to me is I'm excited about getting every possible strategic advantage as a manager and as part of a coaching staff,” Kapler said. “I think that one of the things that I learned is that sometimes those small strategic advantages come at the expense of some confidence from a player.

“So I think I did a better job in 2019 than I did in 2018 of blending those two things, blending the small strategic advantages with the confidence level of the players, and I think I'm going to do a better job having learned some of those lessons in '18, in 2020, without overcorrecting. I think that's an important part as well. Bringing it back to the middle is important, too, after an overcorrection is made.

“So, specifically, it's just striking the right balance between getting small strategic advantages and confidence levels of players.”

Kapler will be back in Philadelphia with the Giants August 7-10 — unless he sneaks into town earlier for one of his favorite steaks at Suraya.

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

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USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

MLB free agency is in full swing and the newest addition to the Phillies, Didi Gregorius, has quite the personality on Twitter.

More specifically, he really enjoys tweeting after his team wins ... especially with emojis.

It almost feels like Groundhog Day scrolling through his feed. And by the looks of things, he rarely forgets.

Take a look:

Of course, these are only a few of the many he has tweeted out. If you have the time though, look at the rest — there are definitely some hidden gems.

Will he continue this tradition with his new club? Will we be able to see tweets from him stating that the bullpen was worth four fire emojis? What emojis will he assign for Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the team?

These are the hard-hitting questions we want answered right after the news of a signing breaks — but we'll just have to wait and see once Spring Training comes to a close in a few months.

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