It is Feb. 17 and finally the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper markets are beginning to heat up. Harper is believed to be heading toward a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. No deal is done yet but all signs point to the Phillies being the frontrunners.

As for Machado, the San Diego Padres have apparently stepped up with a big offer after GM A.J. Preller visited Harper in Miami last week. It's said to be an eight-year contract worth at least $240 million.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman said the Padres made an offer to Harper as well, one that is possibly larger than their offer to Machado. It appears a deal with Machado is more likely than a deal with Harper at this point, however.

The Padres signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal worth $144 million last year and that is the largest contract in franchise history. Machado signing a $240 million deal would dwarf that. Only five players in history have signed a deal worth $240 million or more:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton: 13 years and $325 million
  2. Alex Rodriguez: 10 years and $275 million
  3. Alex Rodriguez: 10 years and $252 million
  4. Miguel Cabrera: 8 years and $248 million
  5. Albert Pujols10 years and $240 million  
  6. Robinson Cano: 10 years and $240 million

On one hand, it seems odd for a rebuilding team such as the Padres -- San Diego went 66-96 last year and SportsLine projects a 67-95 record in 2019 -- to commit so much money to a free agent when they're not ready to contend. On the other hand, the Padres have a monster farm system and could contend sooner than you think. Machado would advance the rebuild considerably.

Also, Machado is only 26 years old. He's young and he's immensely productive, and he'd fit in nicely with the youth movement. The opportunity to sign a player this good and this young doesn't come around often. Clearly the Padres recognize that and are trying to do what they can to sign Machado so they can build around him with that great farm system. Think of it as their version of the Nationals signing Jayson Werth.

The Phillies, White Sox, and Yankees are the three teams that have most been connected to Machado this offseason. The Padres did always make sense as a mystery team, however.