Pitchers and catchers report for spring training in less than five weeks and there's still a group of free agents unsigned that could field a team that wouldn't be the worst in baseball. Something's going to have to start giving here pretty soon. Until then, we'll continue to watch the rumor mill like a hawk. Off we go.
Phils, White Sox not close to $300M for Machado
The Phillies, White Sox and Yankees are the three known teams to be in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, and Philadelphia and Chicago have the most salary flexibility to offer the superstar infielder a mega-contract. But neither team appears to be going as big as the Machado camp would like.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, neither the Phillies nor White Sox are believed to be close to the $300 million-plus offer that Machado is hoping for this winter. Heyman also reports that the Yankees remain Machado's preferred destination but have yet to make a formal offer -- or even engage in negotiations as of late.
Word is, Machado camp still seeking 300M plus. ChiSox, Phillies not believed to be close to that ask (though exact current offers aren’t known, and can change). Meanwhile, Yanks, believed to be preferred destination, have yet to make official offer. Still no word of mystery team.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 9, 2019
Heyman also noted the Yankees haven't been engaged with the slugging 26-year-old lately.
Can’t confirm Yankees are out (there’s no word they’ve been told this at least), but as said, they haven’t engaged in negotiations lately or made an official offer. They aren’t meeting the believed 325M-plus target, or even 300. Or even coming especially close. https://t.co/pTjdkPLjSP— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 9, 2019
Machado visited each of the three teams last month, and talks appear to be getting a bit more serious by the day. Speaking of...
Momentum for Machado to White Sox with decision looming?
The only three teams known to have interest in Manny Machado are the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago reports that the White Sox appear to have the momentum here:
The prevailing feeling across the MLB landscape is that momentum is building for the White Sox in the Manny Machado sweepstakes.
Also of note: The report indicates the Machado decision is going to happen "within a week."
Further, it sounds like the deal might end up in the seven-year range and be closer to $200 million than $300 million. While many fans might scoff at such a notion, this is a big problem for the MLBPA. Players are making less money compared to MLB revenue than they have in well over a decade. A generational talent like Machado at age 26 getting significantly less than, say, Albert Pujols did at age 32 seven seasons ago simply isn't acceptable with MLB annually setting revenue records.
Regardless, at least one report has the White Sox,, as the leader in the clubhouse.
Harper to Nats to trigger Machado to Philly?
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports the markets for Machado and Bryce Harper are "heating up" with Harper's return to the Nationals having "momentum building." In turn, the speculation is that such a move would then trigger Machado going to the Phillies.
All the reporting from the past several weeks does seem to point to the Nationals as Harper's most likely landing spot. The next line of thinking goes that the Phillies would be extra motivated in spending after losing out to the Nationals for both Patrick Corbin and, in this hypothetical, Harper. That would up their offer to Machado, and they would outspend the White Sox to land him.
This all makes sense, especially considering that it seems like the Cubs aren't going to spend a dime, the Yankees seem to be laying low for Machado and the Dodgers don't seem to be willing to go huge for Harper. From everything we've heard, the Nationals for Harper and the Phillies and White Sox for Machado are the most serious suitors for the duo.
Red Sox out on Kimbrel?
"Craig did a great job for us, he's a Hall of Fame reliever,'' Dombrowski says, "but we have not anticipated having a large expenditure for a closer.''
"Did" is past tense and they don't have a "large expenditure," eh? Looks like Kimbrel is gone.
Kimbrel, 30, saved 42 games in 47 chances last season with a 2.74 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. The walks spiked, however, from 1.8 BB/9 to 4.5. Further, he was awfully shaky in the postseason, allowing a 5.91 ERA with eight walks in 10 2/3 innings.
Still, Kimbrel should get paid decently by some team looking to contend and it sounds like that team won't be the defending champs.
Rangers ink Miller
The Rangers took another step toward building a rotation full of familiar names on Wednesday, signing Shelby Miller to a one-year deal, the team announced. Previously, the Rangers had signed Lance Lynn and traded for Drew Smyly.
Miller struggled in five appearances last season with the Diamondbacks. He yielded 24 hits and 21 runs in 16 innings. To be fair, he was attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery. Miller hasn't been a productive big-league starter since 2015. You might recall that he made the All-Star team that year as a member of the Braves.