Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Manny Machado of the Orioles are young, controlled superstars who look like highly appealing extension targets. Of course, that also makes them incredibly expensive potential candidates for their respective teams, as Jon Heyman explains at todaysknuckleball.com. According to Heyman, there’s some suggestion that it could take more than $500MM over an unprecedented term to keep Harper from heading to the open market after the 2018 season. “We have not to this point had any substantive negotiations about a long-term deal,” Nats GM Mike Rizzo said with regard to Harper. Rizzo did suggest that the team has serious interest in doing so, however. “They know what our intentions are,” he said. “My intention is always to get him on a long-term deal that will make him a National for life. At a very young age he performed admirably, not only admirably, but the year he had was historic. It’s going to be a unique deal. We have a very unique player.”
As for Machado, he might not be far behind in value if the O’s hope to reach a deal. Intriguingly, the report suggests that Baltimore very nearly agreed to a seven-year contract with its best player at some point in recent years. That would have certainly proved a bargain given Machado’s increasingly outstanding performance, though the terms of the prospective pact are not known. (Neither is it clear what caused negotiations to fall apart.)
Here’s more from Heyman:
- “A few teams” have checked in with the Braves on Nick Markakis, Heyman writes, but his recent skid at the plate hasn’t helped out his trade value much. Kelly Johnson, too, could become available, though Heyman adds that GM John Coppolella said of Julio Teheran that he expects the right-hander “to be on the team a long time.” From my vantage point, Markakis doesn’t have much value at $11MM per season and with apparently evaporated power. Even if the Braves were to pay down half of his remaining salary through the 2018 season, he hasn’t been productive enough to bring in a meaningful prospect return.
- The Orioles talked to the Padres about James Shields in Spring Training but weren’t willing to cover even half of the salary owed to Shields at the time. Shields has two years and $44MM remaining on his contract following the 2016 season (if he doesn’t opt out), and he’s earning $21MM this season as well. Shields has grabbed headlines recently, having been prominently featured in trade rumors over the weekend and then suffering a 10-run meltdown earlier this week, which the team’s executive chairman publicly referred to as “an embarrassment.”
- The Red Sox, too, have considered Shields but are waiting to see how Eduardo Rodriguez performs upon returning from the disabled list (so far, so good). The White Sox, meanwhile, would want the Padres to pay down a significant portion of the $57MM that remains on Shields’ contract (again, barring an opt out). Heyman writes that a source indicated that shortstop prospect Tim Anderson wouldn’t be involved in talks, though that doesn’t strike me as a surprising revelation; even with half of his contract paid down, that would seem like an overpay on Chicago’s behalf. On a somewhat similar vein, Heyman adds that the Padres approached the Tigers about Shields, but Detroit had no interest in parting with any of Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris or Matt Boyd in a potential deal.
- Shortly after the Rockies acquired Jose Reyes, the Yankees were willing to part with shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo and pay half of the $22MM that is owed to Reyes annually through the 2017 season, Heyman hears.
- The jobs of Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Twins manager Paul Molitor are safe, Heyman writes, though he adds that Detroit GM Al Avila has privately told Ausmus to stop discussing his job security (or lack thereof) with the media, as the situation doesn’t need any extra fuel.
- Greg Holland could take the mound in August, per Heyman, and he may wait until that point before deciding on a team. Both the Royals and Braves have shown interest to this point, he adds.
- The Athletics “may be a favorite” for Cuban second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez, writes Heyman, who also notes that incumbent second baseman Jed Lowrie could help a number of clubs on the trade market. The Padres, too, are said to be considering Fernandez, he adds.
- Rougned Odor’s agent and Rangers GM Jon Daniels recently rekindled extension talks, and Heyman notes that the team heaped praise onto Odor during his appeal hearing during which his suspension for punching Jose Bautista was dropped from eight games to seven games. His suspension has also given Jurickson Profar a chance to play, and Heyman writes that the former top prospect could be a trade candidate now that he’s healthy. Sticking with the Rangers, Heyman adds that the Phillies lobbied hard for Texas to include Nomar Mazara in last year’s Cole Hamels blockbuster, but Daniels refused to give him up.
- The Nationals talked with the D-backs in the offseason about Gio Gonzalez, but Arizona wouldn’t part with Ender Inciarte or David Peralta in the prospective trade. Heyman writes that the Nats spoke to a few teams about Gonzalez, including the Marlins. However, Miami wasn’t keen on surrendering Christian Yelich.