Jon Heyman: Phillies likely to pursue Machado, maybe Harper, too

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The Phillies have been viewed as a likely pursuer of Manny Machado. But people who follow such things are noticing that Machado is getting killed on Philly sports stations; the city that’s heavy on blue collar (plus a few blue bloods) apparently doesn’t appreciate his postseason antics, especially the one where he admitted he isn’t “Johnny Hustle.”

So could Philly shy away? It appears not. Phillies people know — and seem to love — Machado, they want to win, they have resources and they have also noticed there’s a high correlation between spending and winning.

The possibility that Philly could go for both Machado and Bryce Harper — who both are aiming for record contracts — also isn’t off the board. The Phillies put themselves in terrific position to make a big splash by limiting the number of long-term contracts on their roster and spending well beneath their means as they’ve rebuilt in recent years. It also doesn’t hurt that they have a $2.5 billion TV deal over 20 years, which translates to $125 million a year. Teams, not just the Phillies, are not noticing the value of money.

Not only does Boston have the highest payroll in baseball at about $230 million, but Los Angeles would have the highest payroll if not for the smart trade to acquire Matt Kemp while offloading a lot of 2018 salary to get themselves under the $197-million salary cap. Not that Machado or Harper is a mistake, but both World Series teams have survived some major free agent deals gone awry; in Boston’s case that includes Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Rusney Castillo, in L.A.’s case Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and the contracts they acquired in the trade with Boston (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, etc.).

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The Phillies are in position where they could sign both superstars, and still have about half that TV money left over, so it’s doable. The word you hear when Philly people talk about Machado is “talent,” and it’s pretty clear talent plays. They also know Machado since most of the Orioles hierarchy happened to be in Baltimore when Machado was picked No. 3 overall in the memorable 2010 MLB draft.

Machado certainly has taken hits for a variety of on-field indiscretions — kicking Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, creating interference by using his hands on a double play grounder, not running on a grounder in the shortstop hole, and then admitting hustling isn’t his “cup of tea,” in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic — and while it may give some teams pause, it’s unlikely to deter other key teams, including the one run by the front office that knows him best.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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