Manny Machado completed a three-city tour of potential landing spots in Philadelphia today, where he met with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and was taken to dinner by several key members of the organization (links via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki and Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia). Owner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak, manager Gabe Kapler and several members of Kapler’s coaching staff were on hand to try to sway Machado toward coming to Philadelphia.
Machado, as one would expect, was vague when approached by the Philadelphia media and asked about his at Citizens Bank Park, telling reporters that the experience was “pretty awesome” and that he “learned a lot about the organization.”
The Phillies, Zolecki writes, prefer Machado to fellow free agent Bryce Harper. Salisbury indicates the same, portraying Harper as a more realistic target should the Phillies miss out on Machado. He adds that the Phils “seem willing” to outbid the Yankees and make the highest offer for Machado. Joel Sherman of the New York Post agrees, calling it a “near certainty” that the Phillies “and possibly even the White Sox” are willing to bid more on Machado than the Yankees. Per Zolecki, the Phils have maintained confidence that they can convince Machado to sign in Philadelphia despite the fact that they’d play him at third base while Machado’s preference remains to play shortstop. The Yankees, after all, will only have shortstop open for the first portion of the season before Didi Gregorius returns, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman again wrote Thursday afternoon that the organization “would love to keep” Gregorius beyond the 2019 season.
At this point, there’s no clear timeline on when Machado will reach a decision about his next team. The infielder himself told Zolecki and others that determining when to sign “is [his] agent’s job” and that he is “just enjoying the ride.” Yesterday did bring about a small flurry of free-agent activity — Trevor Cahill, Daniel Murphy, Joakim Soria and Anibal Sanchez all agreed to terms, while Andrew Miller is said to be close — but none of those deals will come close to approaching the magnitude of Machado’s eventual contract. With the holiday season at hand, there figures to be a lull in Hot Stove activity, so barring a quick decision on an already in-place offer, Machado’s free agency could well drag on into the New Year. There’s been no indication that any of the three teams with which he met this week has made its best and final offer — or any formal offer at all, for that matter.