Phillies

Source: Phillies plan to meet with Bryce Harper even as they await Manny Machado's decision

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USA Today Images

Source: Phillies plan to meet with Bryce Harper even as they await Manny Machado's decision

The New Year has arrived and the Phillies remain one of at least three teams serious about signing free-agent infielder Manny Machado.

Machado visited with the White Sox, Yankees and Phillies before Christmas. Those clubs — and any mystery teams — were told to submit offers before the New Year. Given the way the negotiating game goes, those were probably preliminary offers with the bidding now ramping up as Machado focuses on a decision that is expected to come in the next week or two.

Even while they negotiate with Machado, the Phillies remain interested in outfielder Bryce Harper, the other megastar on this winter’s free-agent market. In fact, a person close to the player tells NBC Sports Philadelphia that a face-to-face meeting between Harper and Phillies officials is being planned for “the next week or so,” in Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas. Phillies officials met with Harper’s representative, Scott Boras, at the winter meetings in Las Vegas last month. The player was not in attendance at that meeting.

Machado remains the Phillies’ primary focus, but competition for him is stern. The Yankees are high on Machado and he is high on playing for them — he has been for a long time. The Yanks could even offer Machado a chance to play shortstop, his favorite position, for a good chunk of the coming season as Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery. The Yanks have signed veteran infielder Troy Tulowitzki. The signing is seen as inexpensive insurance should the team fail to sign Machado. It also could be a negotiating signal to Machado that the Yankees won’t wait forever.

The Phillies like the idea of using Machado at third base and would probably have to significantly outbid the Yankees to land him. The Phillies have been gearing for this offseason for years and have the resources to do just that — if Machado would say yes to their offer.

The Phillies remain interested in adding a top reliever to the back end of their bullpen — they have interest in Zach Britton, another Boras client — and a left-handed starting pitcher. But at the moment, their focus is Machado — with Harper, as evidenced by the planned face-to-face meeting, beginning to enter the picture.

Stay tuned. The New Year has dawned and this thing is heating up.

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At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield

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NBCSP

At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield

The Phillies shouldn't let Joe Girardi leave town early this week. Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss the Phillies' second round of interviews and more on the latest At the Yard podcast.

• Joe Girard back in Philly Monday and Phillies shouldn't let him leave.

• How much competition do the Mets present for Girardi? Are they prioritizing someone else?/

• Ways Girardi could make his imprint on the 2020 Phillies.

• Do Phillies have an identity crisis?

• Will draft pick compensation affect Phillies' free-agent plans?

• Outfield plans for 2020.

• Corey Dickerson's future.

• Where Jim thinks Gerrit Cole will land. 

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Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

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AP Images

Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

Phillies officials begin an important work week Monday, one that will have a significant impact on the team's future.

On Monday, the club will host Joe Girardi at Citizens Bank Park in a second interview for the team's open manager's job.

Girardi met with team officials last Monday in the New York metropolitan area. He is the third candidate to receive a second interview for the position. Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter visited Philadelphia for second interviews on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Phillies have a narrow focus in their search for a new skipper; they are seeking someone with previous big-league managerial experience. Girardi, Showalter and Baker, with 53 combined years of big-league managing experience and seven manager of the year awards, are the only candidates for the position and it is possible the team could make a hire this week. Thursday could be a target for an announcement as the World Series pauses for an off day between Games 2 and 3.

The Phils could make another important announcement this week. Multiple sources around baseball say the Phils have completed their search for a new amateur scouting director and that Brian Barber is the guy they are locked in on. Barber is a highly regarded national scout for the New York Yankees. His hiring by the Phillies could be announced this week. Barber will replace Johnny Almaraz, who last month stepped down as the Phillies' director of amateur scouting.

Of course, Barber isn't the only man with Yankees roots in the Phillies' sights. Girardi won four World Series rings with the Yankees — three as a player and one as a manager — and is believed to be the Phillies' preferred candidate for manager. 

In addition to having a wealth of experience in running a game with his instincts and intuition, Girardi is well versed in the use of analytics in roster building and game management. Phillies ownership has committed millions to building an analytics department and the club is looking for a manager who can blend a traditional approach to running a game and a team with an approach that uses data and analytics. Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017 and in that time the team became an analytics powerhouse.

Girardi is also a candidate for the New York Mets managerial opening. It is not clear if the Mets are prioritizing previous big-league managing experience like the Phillies are. The Mets have interviewed Girardi as well as a number of candidates who have not managed in the big leagues, such as Carlos Beltran and Eduardo Perez.

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