The Phillies, who have long loved Manny Machado, have stepped up their pursuit of the Orioles superstar, sources said. Those same sources claim they are also in the hunt for another player they love, his teammate and closer Zach Britton.
One source said the Phillies are getting "aggressive."
Rivals suggest Philly is interested in making a huge mark, and this could be it.
The Phillies haven't been called the favorite yet, and the Brewers, Dodgers, Yankees and maybe a couple others remain in the hunt for Machado. But there have been suggestions they are willing to part with at least one from the higher tier of their excellent prospect list. Given that, as of Friday they would seem to have as good a chance as anyone.
The word in circles is that the Phillies would not part with top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and also probably Enyel De Los Santos, who had an impressive MLB debut this week, but the names of several other fine prospects are floating. Jim Salisbury of Comcast Philadelphia mentioned pitchers Adonis Medina, Ranger Suarez and Franklyn Kilome, infielder Arquimedes Gamboa and outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, as well as big leaguers such as outfielder Aaron Altherr and third baseman Maikel Franco.
Almost the entire Phillies executive team came from Baltimore, including president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and Joe Jordan, the scouting director who picked both Machado and Britton. They covet those two Orioles, just as they did ex-Oriole Jake Arrieta, another favorite from Baltimore who signed a lucrative contract with the Phillies.
Philadelphia owner John Middleton, who's already made an impact with the Arrieta and Carlos Santana signings, is said to desire a "big splash." And for good reason, since the Phillies are atop the NL East and are a clear contender for the division title already.
The Yankees' were said to have made a "strong" offer, but the names attached to the Phillies may give them an edge. Sources indicate that at least them, the Dodgers and Brewers are still involved, while the Diamondbacks may be, as well. Less has been heard in recent days about the Indians and Cubs.
Machado would play shortstop for the Phillies, and he probably wouldn't mind rejoining the folks that brought him to the big leagues; he already made clear he has a strong preference to stay at short. The Yankees and Indians both were thinking about third base while the NL teams could all presumably employ him at shortstop.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the Phillies improved offer for Machado.
Britton is drawing major interest, as well, with at least six teams believed to be involved, likely including the Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers and Indians. As one Orioles person put it, "He is an asset unto himself," and someone who could potentially bring back as much as Machado.
Britton impressed scouts by throwing 96-to-98 mph in picking up a save against the Yankees this week. Philly could use help in the bullpen, but the left side of the infield is their biggest need.