We are just about three weeks from when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida for the next Phillies Spring Training.  One of the prime Phillies offseason targets, Manny Machado, remains unsigned.  The most recent Machado chatter includes the Dodgers making an offer and perhaps a "mystery" team or two in the mix.  Who might they be?

Machado's father recently did an interview with Hector Gomez of Z101 Radio in the Dominican Republic.  While Manuel Machado did not name a team, he offered an interesting tidbit.  The team that signs Machado is not one the club might expect.  Additionally, the elder Machado mentioned that his son received an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The involvement of the Dodgers is a surprise.  The Dodgers traded for Machado last season to fill the void left by injured shortstop Corey Seager.  Seager should be healthy in time for 2018.  The Dodgers have Justin Turner at third base, Machado's other position.   They also have infielders Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and David Freese.  Cody Bellinger could play first base or outfield.

But the Dodgers seem to have many players to fill positions.  And recently we learned from Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic that the Dodgers are interested in outfielder A.J. Pollock.  That would seem to indicate that the Dodgers are not in on Machado anymore, if they still were.

So who might the mystery teams be?  Connecting the dots, maybe the Miami Marlins are involved.

First, it should be noted that Machado is a Miami-area native and resident.  Playing close to home would presumably be appealing to almost any employee in any field.  But would the Marlins make such a commitment?

Rosenthal also reported last night that the Marlins were in on a couple other players.  The first was first baseman Carlos Santana, whom the Seattle Mariners were looking to trade.  The other was infielder D.J. LeMahieu, who recently signed with the New York Yankees.

The Marlins clearly are looking to add a veteran to put among their young talent in the organization.  The Marlins are rebuilding and new owner Derek Jeter stripped everything down from the Marlins, including the motley sculpture in the outfield.  Would he consider adding someone like Machado now?

After all - the deal will be a long one.  And if Machado isn't signed by now, maybe a team like the Marlins kicks the tires.  Should teams like the Phillies and the White Sox feel that they are negotiating against themselves and not willing to go too big with their offers, it creates an opportunity of sorts for them to at least engage.

As Rosenthal notes, the Marlins have "flexibility" financially to add someone like Santana.  But whether it's $17.5 million for Santana or $27.5 million for Machado, what's the difference for a team with just $65 million in payroll commitments for 2019.  Even if no one buys a ticket, the Marlins will bring in much more revenue than that.  B

But Machado would certainly sell some tickets and bring some credibility to a franchise Miami has had enough with, thanks to the Jeffrey Luria ownership years.

Maybe it's not the Marlins.  But Machado would make a lot of sense if the goal is to help restore baseball in Miami.  And the deal will be long enough that they may even win in a few years.

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