As outfielder Bryce Harper prepares to sit down with the Phillies, still-early intrigue seems to be brewing in his market. Notably, the Philadelphia organization has yet to make any formal offers to Harper, per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, who notes it’s still not certain whether the team will do so. As has long been rumored, Manny Machado is still the apparent top choice of the Phils brass. Notably, per Salisbury, the club is “expected to make another offer” to Machado this week as his own market continues to develop.
- Of course, Harper’s long-time club in D.C. still has interest in a reunion, with some intriguing recent information emerging of late. But that drama may be overshadowing an equally important aspect of the Nationals’ offseason: the possibility of a deal with pending free agent Anthony Rendon. As Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post writes, this Friday’s deadline to swap arbitration salary submissions may push the sides to think hard about the broader contractual situation. If talks on a long-term deal are progressing, perhaps the sides won’t bother trying to nail down a 2019 salary at this point. If not, they could well focus more energy on settling on an arb number before the exchange deadline. Beyond that, of course, there’s the question of Harper’s status and how it’ll tie into that of Rendon — who’s also a client of agent Scott Boras.
- If all that’s not intriguing enough, the conflicting signals surrounding the Cubs’ interest in Harper remain an oddity of the winter. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic weighs in on the matter in a subscription post, suggesting there’s no reason to believe there’s a match. Indeed, per Rosenthal, the Chicago front office is so strapped for 2019 payroll space that it more or less can’t make any further acquisitions without clearing the cash to do so. The example he gives is reliever Adam Warren, the former Cubs hurler who performed better after his departure from the club. While Warren is certainly deserving of a MLB job and guaranteed money, there’s no reason to think he’ll be a particularly expensive player. As Rosenthal notes, there are still some available ways for the Cubs to clear salary space, though most would seem to involve weakening the MLB roster. Affording Harper, then, would seemingly require a change of heart from ownership or some true creativity.
- As Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen continues to tinker with the club’s 40-man roster, Rosenthal adds, it’s possible there’ll be a few more departures. Backstops Travis d’Arnaud and Tomas Nido have drawn interest and could follow Kevin Plawecki out the door. In such a scenario, it seems, the Mets would go onto the open market for another catcher. Dumping d’Arnaud would have the added benefit of clearing some real payroll space, though obviously a replacement would cost something as well.
- Notably, as he continues to seek ways to upgrade the Mets bullpen, Van Wagenen seems largely to have run through his available funds, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). It seems the organization will mostly be bargain-hunting the rest of the way. That also explains the fact that the Mets have seemingly bowed out of the market for expensive outfielders. Per Andy Martino of SNY.tv, via Twitter, the club isn’t shopping Juan Lagares in trades — though a deal still hasn’t been ruled out entirely — and expects him to line up in center field, where he’ll be supplemented by the just-acquired Keon Broxton. Presumably, Broxton will also spell the team’s left-handed-hitting corner outfielders as well.