Whether directly involved or not with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Los Angeles Dodgers figured to factor prominently in this winter’s free agency period. After remaining under the luxury tax threshold in 2018, the Dodgers were expected to be aggressive on the open market.
Thus far that’s translated to re-signing David Freese, coming to terms with Clayton Kershaw on a contract extension, and signing Joe Kelly to a three-year deal. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have remained on the periphery with Harper and not been involved for Machado.
It’s considered unlikely that the 26-year-old shortstop will re-sign with the Dodgers. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering his inconsistency with the team and Corey Seager remaining on track to recover from Tommy John and hip surgeries in time for 2019 Opening Day.
Harper and Machado have shared reported suitors, including the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. According to Joel Sherman of The New York Post, neither star free agent is bullish on the Phillies and both have a preference to sign with the Yankees:
Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia and both would have preferred the Yankees, who have shown little interest in Harper.
Absent from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Machado recently completed a free agency tour that was comprised of visits with the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox. Although New York has been linked to Machado, owner Hal Steinbrenner admitted to having concern and questions over his comments about hustle.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman downplayed the idea that the team would pursue signing Harper, citing their depth in the outfield. Of course, that may very well have been an attempt at posturing to gain leverage in potential contract negotiations.
As for the Dodgers, some believe they are the most likely landing spot for the Las Vegas native. However, the Dodgers have not shown an inclination to dole out the type of long-term contract Harper reportedly is seeking.