Phillies not planning to land both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, report says

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The Philadelphia Phillies are angling to contend in 2019, and this offseason they've complemented their existing core by bringing in names like Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and David Robertson. The Phillies also have a great deal of flexibility in their budget -- room to be "stupid," even -- which is why some Philly fans have plausibly dreamed of signing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. 

The Harper-to-Philly buzz has been louder after a very successful face-to-face meeting in Las Vegas. But here comes The Athletic's Matt Gelb with a bit of a plot twist... 

The Phillies are believed to prefer Machado over Harper because he is an elite hitter and defender, but conflicting information has spread from team to team and agent to agent. That, of course, is by design. The Phillies do not benefit from broadcasting their preference. League sources insisted the Phillies have made this much clear during negotiations: They will not sign both players.

Gelb's piece includes much more on the Phillies' internal machinations this winter, so do give it a full read. 

So the two key takeaways ... 

  • The Phillies may prefer Machado to Harper. 
  • The Phillies, contrary to those aforementioned fever-dreams, won't be signing both generational free agents.

Favoring Machado over Harper is easily defensible. Each is 26, and even though Harper is a former MVP, Machado has a notable lead in career WAR: 33.8 in 926 games to Harper's 27.4 in 927 games. Machado's been more durable in recent years, and he's a much better defender than Harper. As well, it's possible Harper winds up signing the bigger contract, so in that sense Machado can be regarded as the potential bargain of the two. 

As for those ambitions of signing both, it always sounded a bit fantastical, even if Philly does have room in the payroll for Harper and Machado. These situations are always fluid, but the signs point to the Phillies' landing one of the two superstars. If preferences carry the day, then perhaps it's Machado. If, say, the White Sox wind up having something to say about that, then perhaps it's Harper. Either way, the Phillies are likely going to come out of this offseason well positioned to contend in the NL East for years to come. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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