The big question around the Major League Baseball community is, where will the free agents sign? Of course, the main players in question are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, formerly with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals respectively. Both players have spent this offseason speaking with representatives from various teams around the league, but have yet to accept their next assignment. Furthermore, Machado has received a mega offer from the Chicago White Sox, but has not signed. What are these free agents looking for in the next phase of their careers?
Both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are players that have amazed the league with their talents on the field, and are valued highly by other major league clubs. Machado was traded mid-season last year from the Baltimore Orioles to the Dodgers, in L.A.’s effort to make a deep postseason run. But, what Los Angeles received was a star player in the ending months of his contract, that was bound to reel him get his career contract afterwards. Machado has clearly been waiting on the money, as Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Chicago White Sox have stepped up to the plate, offering Machado 175 million dollars for a seven-year deal. No figures have come out on any offers to Harper, but he has been visiting clubs. For players like Machado and Harper, they are looking for a contract to last out their careers of potentially 10 years, and upwards of 200 million. A stagnant free agent market has left these superstars in the waiting game, as many teams around the league are looking to rebuild within to save payroll space. The current state of the league poses the question, do these players want too much?
Machado and Harper have each visited with multiple clubs, including but not limited to the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Diego Padres. Both stars are known for their questionable statements when interacting with the press, which raises the concern for their chemistry in new clubhouses. From the outside looking in, Machado would prefer the White Sox’s offer due to his brother-in-law Yonder Alonso signing there earlier in the offseason. Harper could sign anywhere there is a competitive atmosphere. If teams are going to commit to these players for the long term, they will expect leadership in the clubhouse and on the field, which may be a stretch for these guys. Not many teams will extend an offer on such a grand scale as these guys would like, which may be a humbling experience for them if they do not find a contract by the beginning of free agency. Many fans of the MLB remember the player strikes of the 1990’s, and how the players won their outrageous salaries through protest. Not many will sympathize for wanting more money after that, including ballclubs.
Will Harper and Machado find the right fit for them? Will they sign before spring training begins in merely two weeks? Are their salary expectations too much? No ballclub has sparked their interests yet, and it looks like most teams are content going into the new season. The stalemate between these free agents and potential suitors is not something new, but it appears most teams will not pay up further from what was previously deemed a “mega deal.”