MLB rumors: Phillies confident about signing Machado or Harper; Moustakas market taking shape

There are just four weeks or so until pitchers and catchers start showing up in Arizona and Florida for spring training, but at the moment 20 of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned, including four of the top seven. So, yes, we’re plodding our way through another slow offseason.

Eventually, though, names will start dropping, which is why we’re here to keep track of the day’s hot stove rumblings right here in this roundup post. Make sure you check back often for updates.

Phillies confident they’ll land one of the big two

The Phillies this offseason have already added Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and David Robertson to the fold, and they of course still have strong designs on signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The Phillies have a great deal of flexibility in their budget — room to be “stupid,” even — which is why some speculated that they could sign Harper and Machado. While that seems unlikely, it does seem that the Phils will get one or the other. Here’s this from Matt Gelb of The Athletic … 

There is less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to camps across Florida and Arizona, and multiple sources have told The Athletic that the Phillies have gained confidence they will land one of the available superstars.

The Phillies recently had a successful face-to-face meeting with Harper, and they’re widely considered to be the frontrunners. As for Machado, the White Sox are perhaps his strongest suitor at the moment. On the other hand, the Phillies may prefer Machado to Harper, which of course suggests that the entire situation is fluid. You can read more here

The Moustakas market

Veteran third baseman and free agent Mike Moustakas is coming off a 2018 season in which he hit 28 home runs and put up an OPS+ of 108 in 152 games for the Royals and Brewers. He’s going into his age-30 campaign, and over the last two seasons he’s racked up 66 homers. No, he’ll never be an adequate on-base threat, but he’s got plenty of left-handed pop and can still get by at the hot corner. 

As for the market for his services, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic gives us the overview in his must-read notes column from Tuesday: 

Moustakas also remains a possibility for the Padres, and he could appeal to the Phillies if they land Bryce Harper rather than Manny Machado. The Phils likely have a trade lined up for third baseman Maikel Franco, possibly to the Padres, that they could execute either way.

Rosenthal also notes that the incumbent Brewers have some interest in bringing back Moustakas. Signing with the Padres would of course reunite Moustakas with Eric Hosmer, his longtime teammate in Kansas City.

Grandal explains his choice

Catcher Yasmani Grandal earlier this offseason turned down a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets obviously on the assumption that he could do better. That was a reasonable chance to take, given that Grandal is an excellent hitter by positional standards and also a skilled pitch-framer. In the end, though, Grandal wound up inking a one-year pact with the Brewers for $18.25 million. That’s obviously a misread on his part. Yes, Grandal could have a customary year, re-enter the market and do better, but that $60 million guarantee looks like the best path in retrospect. 

Speaking of all that, Grandal on Tuesday explained his thinking and his aggressive playing of the market … 

Any number of things help to set the market for a given slice of time, and one of those, obviously, are the contracts players choose to sign. Grandal gambled and, it would seem, lost. But given his skills it was a reasonable gamble. Consider this another indicator that players are losing patience with the suspiciously depressed rates on the free-agent market. 

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