We took a look yesterday at some of the early chatter on Bryce Harper. While the early chatter has been less voluminous with regard to fellow superstar Manny Machado, there’s little doubt that he will have his moment as well. As the stage-setting GM Meetings draw to a close, let’s check in on some additional notes on the market’s most-hyped free agents.
- Some eyebrows raised this evening when it was observed that the White Sox had unveiled a stage set at Chicago’s United Center featuring Bryce Harper’s name. As Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports explains, there’s no reason to think this was the beginning of the roll-out of a signing; our readers from the south side can safely inform friends and neighbors that there’s nothing imminent. More likely, it’s part of a recruiting pitch for the popular young free agent, who is in Chicago today. The news shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, clearly, but that doesn’t mean it’s of no consequence. Evidently, the White Sox are serious enough pursuers that they have secured an in-person visit and are putting resources into a pitch. That certainly dovetails with recent reports and public statements from the organization indicating that the club is looking to spend. It also bodes well for Harper’s market that a team such as the White Sox is making a run at him even after he reportedly turned down a $300MM offer to remain in D.C.
- As for the cross-town Cubs, all indications remain that they do not see themselves as a contender for Harper’s services, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reiterates on Twitter. As Rogers puts it, if the club is “playing possum,” it’s “doing a heck of a job” at selling the act.
- It remains to be seen what stance the Giants will take with regard to Harper, particularly as Farhan Zaidi settles into his new digs atop the club’s baseball operations department. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, though, agent Scott Boras certainly seems to see San Francisco as a viable landing spot for his client. Harper, he says, views the organization fondly — and would not only deliver value on the field, but off of it. As for the club’s viewpoint, it’s tough to say whether Harper will be deemed a sensible target. CEO Larry Baer said “there’s no restrictions” for his new top baseball decisionmaker; whether or not to join the bidding on Harper (or other hyper-expensive free agents) is “a judgment [Zaidi] is going to need to make.”
- Of course, as Shea highlights, and Baer himself noted, that sort of outlay did not fit the M.O. of either of Zaidi’s prior two ballclubs — even those pesky division rivals to the south. Speaking of the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote recently that Harper is a player worthy of breaking the mold (and the bank) to acquire. Beyond his qualities as a ballplayer, Hernandez argues that Harper has the star power — and the right kind of attitude — to thrive in Los Angeles.
- Interestingly, the Cardinals, per Jon Heyman of Fancred, “do not seem interested” in Machado despite seemingly lining up from the perspective of roster need. But there has been quite a lot of discussion in St. Louis circles as to whether Harper might be a target. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid out the state of affairs recently. The Cards, he says, are seen as “a factor” in the market for Harper. While some would write the St. Louis organization off due to a lack of monster contracts on their ledger, it’s worth bearing in mind that the club has entered significant bids for players such as Jason Heyward (see here) and David Price (see here) in recent seasons, and also sought to acquire Giancarlo Stanton last winter.
- And what of the Yankees? The situation hasn’t really changed since last we checked in, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a crack at thinking through how things may play out. There’s little indication at present that the New York club has any real intention of going for Harper. But Machado makes for a much more intriguing roster fit, and could prove particularly tantalizing.