AthleticsOpinion

Generational talents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned through January

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are both (arguably) the top five players in the MLB. They’re both only 26 years old. And yet they remain on the free agent market even as pitchers and catchers are beginning to report to Spring Training facilities.

The two free agents have also been rumored to be teaming up. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The two free agents have also been rumored to be teaming up. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There have been rumors. There have been fake stories (see the Bryce Harper-to-the-Phillies scare). There have been pitches by family members (Yonder Alonso, the newly minted White Sox first baseman and Machado’s brother-in-law), and yet nothing has happened. Nobody really has any idea as to what’s going to happen.

Some experts say they’re going to join forces (in Philadelphia or even Chicago). Some say Harper is going to Hollywood (with rumors being started by the Dodgers clearing cap space with their trade with the Reds which sent Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood over to Cincinnati for some low-level prospects). Others say Machado is going to the Big Apple, as the Yankees have a hole at shortstop with Didi Gregorius being out for half the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But, despite all of these different scenarios, nobody really has any idea as to who’s going where.

Harper even made a joke on Twitter asking Tony Romo (who had been seemingly calling the Patriots’ offensive plays from the booth during the AFC Championship Game) where the CBS announcer thought Bryce was going. Now, I’m going to make a prediction, but truthfully, this is totally whimsical, and I don’t really have a clue as to where either of these elite talents are going to sign. These are just based on the “facts” I have acquired through gut feelings, hunches, and maybe some light social media stalking of both players.

BRYCE HARPER: Where’s he going? The Chicago Cubs.

Why? Well… let’s break it down in terms of where he WANTS to go, as opposed to where he could get PAID. If he wanted money, he probably would have simply re-signed with the Washington Nationals, as they reportedly offered him a 10-year, $300 million deal to stay. The Washington owner has also come out and said he doesn’t expect Harper to stay, but the GM has also said that they are willing to make him an even bigger offer. So clearly, money is not the issue here.

 Harper, a Nevada native, was the first overall pick of the 2010 MLB draft. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Harper, a Nevada native, was the first overall pick of the 2010 MLB draft. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Harper has previously expressed interest in playing in Wrigley, as he would be joining fellow Nevada native Kris Bryant to form a star-studded lineup featuring MVP-candidate Javy Baez, along with the aforementioned Bryant, who is a former MVP himself. This move would turn Chicago into the favorites to win not only the NL Central but also the NL pennant. They would maybe have to make a couple more moves to get some bullpen and rotation help, but their lineup would be one of the most dangerous in the Major Leagues.

As for the light social media stalking, it was a huge deal for a lot of people when Harper spent New Year’s Eve with Bryant and both of their wives. Harper posed for a photo booth picture and Bryant’s wife posted it on her Instagram story, tagging both of the sluggers. This made big news in the baseball world, as this (seemingly) put the Cubs at the top of the conversation for favorites to land Harper. So, with all that being said, that is my “rock solid” argument for Harper going to the Cubs. And wouldn’t it be fun to see Harper hitting bombs in Wrigley?

MANNY MACHADO: Where’s he going? The Chicago White Sox

Why? It’s a hand-in-glove (pun intended) fit. The White Sox have been rebuilding for what seems like forever, and they have the pieces in place to make a run for the AL Central. The Central was pretty horrendous last year other than the Cleveland Indians (who proceeded to stink it up in the playoffs against the Astros in the ALDS).

Machado was dealt to the Los Angales Dodgers this past season near the July 31 Trade Deadline to help the Dodgers reach the World Series, where they lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Machado was dealt to the Los Angales Dodgers this past season near the July 31 Trade Deadline to help the Dodgers reach the World Series, where they lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

If the White Sox landed Machado, that, along with their other offseason moves and their already established young core of players, would put them right in the thick of things when it comes to playoff contention. Then, you allow their youth a year or two to develop a little more (and maybe for the Yankees and Red Sox to fall off a little), they’re right into the AL Pennant conversation.

The White Sox have apparently already offered a contract to Machado. However, Machado would be forced back to his original position as a third baseman because the White Sox already have a young, promising shortstop, Tim Anderson. They could trade Anderson for a third baseman if they reach an agreement with Machado and feel as if they need to keep Machado happy. But that’s not entirely necessary. Yonder Alonso is not only a friend but is also family. That could also play a factor in Machado’s decision making.

My gut tells me this will end up happening, so watch out for the White Sox if it does. But who knows? I know I don’t, but I sure am excited.

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