Bryce Harper and Manny Machado could become the highest paid free agents in the history of Major League Baseball this winter, and one team may be gearing up for a run at both superstars.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, rival executives think the Phillies could land both Machado and Harper, the two big fish in this year's free agent class. Philadelphia has been linked to both Harper and Machado in the past, as Heyman noted, so the genuine interest is there.
But many other factors give the Phillies a great chance to land at least one of them, and perhaps both. As Heyman noted, they signed a major television contract (reported to be for 25 years and more than $2.5 billion), which gives Philly more money to spend.
On top of that, Heyman notes that their payroll is still low ($approx $96.412 millon, per Spotrac.com), and that the Phillies have shown the willingness to spend in order to win. And finally, Heyman pointed out that four team executives were in Baltimore when Machado was drafted third overall in 2010.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are most likely not bringing back Machado, whom they acquired at the trade deadline, after this season. They have Justin Turner at third, and Corey Seager is still the long-term shortstop. There's nowhere to place Machado after 2018, and the already high-spending Dodgers probably don't need a major $200 million-plus contract on their payroll.
As for Harper, Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has vowed that the team will push to retain their franchise player. But the Phillies certainly have the resources and money to outbid the Nationals, and Harper may want to move on from a team that hasn't won a playoff series since relocating to DC.
Machado and Harper are two generational talents; among the top defensive players and great sluggers of this era. Both will be just 26 years of age when next season starts, too, so the winning bidder(s) would be getting both stars right in the midst of their prime years.
Philadelphia has spent the last five or so years rebuilding their roster, but there's so much young talent on the roster, while Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola form a dangerous 1-2 punch in the rotation. One can only wonder how great this Phillies team would be if they got both Machado and Harper.