The calendar has flipped to 2019, and baseball’s offseason should pick back up after a brief quiet period. The league is still waiting on decisions from its two biggest free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Both Harper and Machado have been pursued vigorously by the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. The New York Yankees also want Machado badly, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Harper.
It seems like once one of these two superstars picks his destination, the market will begin to move again.
In his first column for ESPN, MLB insider Jeff Passan has posted an intriguing Harper update. He’s not ruling out a reunion between Bryce and the Washington Nationals, and cautions that the former NL MVP could take this time deciding where to sign.
Harper has met multiple times with representatives of the Washington Nationals, according to a club source, and the possibility of a return to the place he spent the first seven years of his career persists, despite Nationals owner Mark Lerner’s insistence that Washington would not stretch beyond the $300 million offer Harper rejected near season’s end. The Phillies and White Sox are the other two teams known to be willing to guarantee Harper the decade-plus-long deal he and Machado, each 26 years old, are seeking. Harper’s willingness to wait for a contract he deems suitable is real, according to a source who said he could see Harper’s free agency stretching into February.
Harper going back to Washington would be a major surprise and would firmly reestablish the Nationals as contenders in the NL East and the league in general.
Machado appears to be closer to a decision, and he could announce one sooner rather than later. The Yankees are rumored to be the favorites to land him.