A Phillies Deal for Machado Likely Requires a Contract Extension
That the Phillies are interested in infielder Manny Machado, who currently plays third base for the Baltimore Orioles, has been a poorly-kept secret. With plenty of financial flexibility, the Phillies are expected to be major players in the deep 2018 free agent class, and Machado was expected to be there. Rather unexpectedly, the Orioles are taking offers on Machado, which could change how the Phillies approach the situation.
While Orioles owner Peter Angelos was thought to wish to hold on to Machado until he departed as a free agent. But, if the Orioles are unlikely to retain Machado, they would be best served as an organization by bringing back some value now. A sign the Orioles are serious about doing this is that the son of Petere Angelos is in attendance at the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, perhaps signaling they are going to seriously discuss this option.
This puts the Phillies in a tough situation. If they believe to Machado to be a perfect fit, they almost cannot assume that he will be there a year from now and that the Phillies will only have to offer him money. What if, hypothetically, Machado is traded to a team who reportedly has interest, such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Machado enjoys it. Might he sign an extension before the Phillies have a chance?
The Phillies might be willing to make a trade for Machado to avoid this from happening. But, to do so, they will likely require a contract extension. And Machado might not be willing to do so.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reports that the Phillies are not likely to grant such an extension:
"Probably not" is not a hard no. And, who knows: maybe the Phillies are willing to take a chance that Machado really enjoys his time in Philadelphia and will stay. If Machado becomes a free agent, they may face stiff competition from the New York Yankees, who even after trading for slugger Giancarlo Stanton may have financial flexibility to sign Machado, thanks to some expiring contracts and the trades of pricy infielders Chase Headley and Starlin Castro.
Another sign the Phillies might think they could land Machado are reports that the Phillies are interested in pitcher Jake Arrieta. Maybe the Phillies think that with both players they will have a chance to compete in 2018, a bit ahead of schedule.
One could argue that the Phillies need to retain all prospects and not "overpay" any players such as Machado. But, for the Phillies to really ascend into contention, they will need to add young, impact players such as Machado. While they have some very nice players, there are few impact players. Rhys Hoskins has exceeded expectations, but it is hard to call him a slam dunk slugger just yet.
There may not even be other high-impact options next offseason. Superagent Scott Boras himself has said that he has had extension talks with the Nationals over outfielder Bryce Harper. The Phillies may end up missing out on both players if they had hoped to add either one.
The Phillies can indeed wait for the free agent class of 2018 a year from now. But, the Phillies cannot simply take for granted that 1) The players they are interested in will be available and that 2) They will win the bidding, even with all their available funds. The Phillies may have to make some tough decisions and take some risks. That may begin with Machado. Stay tuned.