What has been yet another slow-moving free agency for the top players on the open market, seemingly gained steam over recent weeks with several reports of interested teams and contract negotiations with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Heading into the offseason, many were predicting Harper and Machado would each sign a long-term deal in the neighborhood of $300 million. A tepid start to free agency has given way to the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals being linked to one of or both of the 26-year-olds.
With the White Sox and Machado, that was said to have reached a point where a seven-year contract offer was made to the shortstop. However, Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, emphatically pushed back on that report and others pertaining to his client’s free agency, per Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports:
“I have known Bob Nightengale and Buster Olney for many years and have always had a good professional relationship with both. But their recent reporting, like many other rumors in the past several months, have been inaccurate and reckless when it comes to Manny Machado. I don’t know if their sources are blatantly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement by intentionally misleading them to try and affect negotiations through the public or are just flat out lying to them for other reasons. But the truth is that their reports on the details of the White Sox level of interest in Manny are completely wrong.
I am well aware that the entire baseball universe; fans, players, teams, and media members alike; are starved for information about this free agent market for all players, including Manny. But I am not going to continue to watch the press be manipulated into tampering with, not just with my client, but all of these players’ livelihoods as they have been doing this entire offseason. The absence of new information to report is no excuse to fabricate “news” or regurgitate falsehoods without even attempting to confirm their validity and it is a disservice to baseball fans everywhere when the media does just that.
Moving forward, I will continue to respect the CBA’s prohibition on negotiations through the media, and hope that others would do the same.”
That Lozano would elect to publicly denounce reports of interest in Machado is certainly an intriguing and bold strategy. One executive believed a competition between Lozano and Scott Boras, who represents Harper, was delaying either of the players signing.