16:45: Machado was at one point the primary target of the Phils, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred ( Twitter Links ), but there is now much more between him and Harper – if not easy in favor of Harper. According to Heyman, the Phillies will make an official offer to Harper in the near future.
Even if the Phillies do not sign Machado and Harper, Heyman notes that it is the goal to sign one and then the market for other top-free agents such as Pollock, Keuchel and Kimbrel. To this end, USA Todays Bob Nightengale cites Team Executives with the Phils in Tweeten that the organization has "visions" of the trio's signature Harper, Keuchel and Kimbrel. Along with the earlier takeovers of Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen among other things, this would obviously be a seismic overhaul task, the extent of which has not been surpassed by any recent team memory.
Of course, the desire to add this trio and actually sign all three is two completely separate animals, and it remains to be seen how realistic it is that the Phillies could win the bid for three of the market's remaining free agents  13:00: With a surprisingly small number of teams employing superstar-free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado it sometimes seems to have been so If the budget is big, Phillies are the favorites for both players. Of course, even if the Philadelphia organization is the single most likely team to secure everyone's services, that does not mean it should be expected to get away with a pair of Monster deals. However, the possibility of hooking two free agent trophies remains to be considered.
In the wake of an interesting collapse of the current situation, Matt Yellow of The Athletic (subscription link) beats the idea of the Phillies making consecutive strikes for Harper and Machado. The Phils, he reports, "have made this much clear in negotiations: they will not sign both players."
Certainly, there was never any expectation that the Phillies would both land as well as seriously consider taking two huge salaries. However, it is still a remarkable piece of apparently hard information in a market situation that, as far as we know, has remained extremely fluid.
As Yellow explains, this attitude is also a notable aspect of Harper's and Machado's Phillies strategy. If the money of the club exists only for one of the two players, this has no small leverage. Even if both players prefer to land elsewhere, they certainly can not ignore the fact that the Phils' rich paperbacks navigate pursuit in a surprisingly barren field.
Perhaps the best case for the Philadelphia club would be one of them. These two players are jumping for a big but tasty offer. Of course, their respective representatives – Scott Boras for Harper and Dan Lozano for Machado – have played this game before. We have seen teams emerge from the woodwork and land with amazingly massive orders players of this quality. As Gelb rightly suggests, the presence (or absence) of "mystery teams" – whether as active bidders or as summoned by the agents – can significantly influence the negotiation process.
Yellow wants the Philly Club to do so Keep practicing your patience in the talks. The situation seems ripe for this approach, though the team would certainly be better off if Harper or Machado had a stronger personal desire to end up in Philly. In fact, there seem to be few risks (beyond the risks inherent in such a large investment that the team has already largely decided on in favor of action).
These risks seem manageable. One is simply that the team loses the player who prefers to land what Machado seems to be. Given that the squad is vulnerable to upgrades in both the corner and the third base, this is not a big concern. Another is that in the end it will pay a bit more if the bid is taken seriously. Paying a premium to prevent this possibility seems unwise, if the Phillies can certainly afford a higher price if needed. (This is the point of the post where I quote owner John Middleton for his willingness to spend "stupid money" this winter.)
Finally, the Phils may be missing from both players. Yellow says the team is confident that it will land one of the two. However, there is a possibility that they are both going in a different direction. That is perhaps the most worrisome result, although there are alternatives. A.J. Pollock Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are the leading three alternative free agents. Everything would be hypothetical. And there are certainly some fascinating goals available in the trading market, even if it means finding more potential capital than the team wants. Losing the power of the stars would hurt, but it seems reasonable to believe the Phillies could still compensate for the lack of talent.
All in all, there are still many ways that things could prevail – with Harper and Machado Philadelphia obviously not among them. While not shocking, today's news covers the universe of predictable results. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in a slow-moving and increasingly tense market, this is a guidepost that at least should be kept in mind.