9:25pm: Machado has held an in-person meeting with one of the mystery clubs “in recent days,” Martino tweets. The report also indicates that Machado is expected to choose the biggest contract offer he’s presented, with other factors evidently taking a back seat.
8:03pm: The presence or absence of so-called “mystery teams” — unidentified but active pursuers of a given player — has long been a subplot of the market for Manny Machado this winter. With the Phillies, White Sox, and (to a lesser extent) Yankees known to be involved in the hunt, the question is whether other organizations would quietly help drive the bidding.
Now, on the heels of some suggestive comments from Machado’s father (via Dominican journalist Hector Gomez, on Twitter), there’s clear reporting indicating that is the case. Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that not only is there a mystery team chasing Machado, but that it’s presently the high bidder. Andy Martino of SNY.tv adds on Twitter that there are actually two such clubs in the mix.
While this news is certainly vague in one sense, in that it doesn’t indicate what teams are now involved, it certainly is being presented as being firmly rooted in reality. Some may be skeptical, but it has always made sense for certain clubs to prefer to make their pursuit a quiet one. And the truly hard-to-fathom aspect of the market to date has been the lack of more teams publicly chasing one of the game’s best players, who’s hitting the market at just 26 years of age.
Last we checked in on Machado, a few days back, his agent Dan Lozano was forced to publicly comment on reports of a middling offer from the White Sox. Indeed, the level of money that had been suggested — seven years, $175MM — hardly seems to match Machado’s value when considering his established track record, age, and past open-market contracts. In any event, it seems at a minimum that those numbers may not have represented a full picture of the level of the Chicago organization’s interest.
The latest news puts a much better spin on the outlook for Machado. If there are indeed a pair of mystery teams, in addition to the three known to have interest, then that leaves quite a few more landing spots for Lozano to explore — and, presumably, a fair bit more leverage to work with in trying to move Machado’s earning level northward.