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The latest Machado free-agent rumors

MLB.com

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Do the Yankees 'have to get a deal done' with Machado?
Dec. 16: The Yankees will be without shortstop Didi Gregorius for the first half of the 2019 season. As New York has worked to upgrade its starting rotation this offseason, Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM asks whether the Bronx Bombers need to be more urgent about signing Manny Machado.

"If you're the Yankees, and you don't sign Machado, and even if you sign someone like [Troy Tulowitzki] as a stopgap, you are not as good a lineup as you were last year," Memolo argues. "Troy Tulowitzki and some of the other names mentioned are not as good offensively or defensively as Didi Gregorius. So you tell me about that 'fully operational Death Star,' and I tell you that your lineup today, December 16, is not as good as it was last year."

Machado is expected to land a long-term contract in the neighborhood of $300 million this offseason. Along with Bryce Harper, the 26-year-old Machado is the most coveted free agent on the market. A four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, he hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 14 steals between the Orioles and Dodgers last season.

As the Yankees work to put together a roster that can match the defending World Series champion Red Sox in the American League East, New York will be looking for any edge possible heading into the '19 season.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: .@jimmemolo thinks the #Yankees have to get a deal done with Manny Machado.#DeathStar pic.twitter.com/UYiyqPkYLa

Machado to meet with Yanks on Wednesday, Phils on Thursday
Dec. 16: Manny Machado will formally meet with the Yankees on Wednesday in New York, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. And he'll meet with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, reports NBC Sports' Jim Salisbury

Tweet from @GeorgeAKingIII: Manny Machado and Yankees have meeting scheduled for Wednesday in New York

Regardless of ownership's apprehensions of Machado's work ethic and perceived character concerns, all signs have pointed to the Yankees at least exploring the possibility of adding the star shortstop this offseason. They were reportedly interested in him last winter, tried to acquire him ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July and now have a need at the position with Didi Gregorius slated to miss a chunk of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  
Last month, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner called Machado's now-infamous "Johnny Hustle" comments "troubling" and said he was hoping to conduct a sit-down meeting with Machado to glean clarification on his remarks. Andy Martino of SNY.tv reported after the postseason that the club was "lukewarm" on Machado given his postseason antics, though that approach appears to have altered.

The Phillies have also been long rumored to be interested in signing not only Machado, but perhaps also the other marquee free agent this offseason, Bryce Harper. With young talent on the roster and enough payroll room to spend big this winter, Philadelphia is looking to shake up what is shaping up to be a very competitive NL East in 2019.
 
The Machado market, like most players' this offseason, has been slow to develop. Machado has been rumored to be in the market for one of the richest contracts in baseball history, potentially in the neighborhood of $300 million. The Yankees and Phillies are among only a small handful of clubs with the financial bandwidth to offer such a deal. Gregorius will be back at some time in 2019, but he will become a free agent at season's end, which could create a long-term spot for Machado. 

Video: Would the Yankees prefer Harper or Machado?

While teams continue to woo Machado, it's also worth considering this process from his point of view, too. Does Machado have a preference for where he winds up?

"Manny Machado's first choice is the New York Yankees," CBS Sports Network analyst and former big league general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday evening. "So if the Yankees come to the table ... and are willing to compete financially for his services, they will be the team that gets Manny Machado."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���Manny Machado���s first choice is the New York Yankees.���If the Yankees are willing to meet Machado���s price tag, @JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein he will be wearing pinstripes. #T2S pic.twitter.com/rLwUfByWj5

The Yankees certainly have the resources to go after Machado, who is expected to score a contract that could rival that of Harper's this offseason. The question, then, might be how badly Cashman and the rest of the club's front office and ownership want Machado.

Could a club coming off a losing season be the one to land Machado?
Dec. 16: The White Sox have been in the Machado sweepstakes since last offseason, when they intriguingly attempted to trade for him when most of their other moves indicated they were still attempting to stock up their farm system. They again tried to acquire him ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July. And now they're among a handful of teams trying to sign him in free agency, where it will cost the club only dollars and not prospects. 

But it will take a lot of dollars to land Machado. 

Machado has been rumored to be in the market for among the richest contracts in baseball history, perhaps in excess of $200 million (if not more). It's also believed that he wants to sign with a contender, which further limits the pool of potential suitors. However, in an interesting piece for MLB.com, analyst Mike Petriello points out that, while winning is probably important to Machado (and Bryce Harper, for that matter), the underlying factor will be dollars. 

What type of team typically gives out a mega-deal?

"The thinking goes, Harper and Machado want to win," Petriello writes. "Harper has never won a playoff series. Machado hadn't before joining the Dodgers late in 2018. They won't go to a team that didn't win.

"Perhaps. But is that really true? Think about all the variables that go into a decision this momentous. Sure, winning is important. So are location, fit with the organization, ballpark, teammates, coaches and so on. But in the end, we all know the most important factor here is money. They're going to go where they can get the largest contract, and they've earned the right to do so."

Petriello adds that nearly 40 percent of all contracts in excess of $100 million have been given out by clubs that were coming off a sub-.500 season. It's logic backed by the hope that a prized talent can help springboard a club by making an immediate impact. 

The Phillies, who are also as in on Machado as any club, finished 80-82 last year and would fit into Petriello's criteria.

Alonso is headed to the White Sox. Is Machado next?
Dec. 15: The White Sox have officially acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call.

Alonso, 31, hit .250/.317/.421 with 23 home runs in 145 games for the Tribe last season, on the heels of an All-Star campaign split between the A's and Mariners, in which he slugged .501 with 28 homers in 142 games. He has an $8 million salary for 2019, and a $9 million club option for '20, with a $1 million buyout.

Alonso is also the brother-in-law of free-agent superstar Manny Machado, who is reportedly scheduled to meet with the White Sox in a matter of days. Chicago has been rumored to be interested in adding Machado to a club that will soon see top talent from the farm system coming into the big leagues. Adding his brother-in-law to the roster may enhance the organization's chances at landing one of the premier talents in the game. More >

White Sox reportedly have spending limits for Harper, Machado
Dec. 15: The White Sox like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and are hoping to make one of them the centerpiece of their roster as they emerge from a rebuilding period, but it remains to be seen if the club will actually be among the top bidders for the two superstars.

A source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Chicago is unwilling to make a record-setting offer to either player.

"The interest of the White Sox is more measured and modest than frenzied, and within more conventional financial bounds," Olney wrote Saturday for ESPN+ (subscription required).

That might not be enough for either player to choose the White Sox, especially with the team unlikely to be a serious contender in 2019 -- even with a big free-agent splash.

As MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic (subscription required) last week, "the prevailing assumption in the industry is that [agent] Scott Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both." One would assume Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, wants to do the same, or at least come close.

Rosenthal also recently broke down why signing Harper or Machado would be out of character for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, even for a contract that doesn't set records. As Rosenthal noted, the biggest contract in team history is the six-year, $68 million deal Jose Abreu signed in October 2013.

Would Machado return to 3B if price is right?
Dec. 13: Manny Machado spent the past year making it abundantly clear that he prefers playing shortstop. It's why he moved last offseason from third base, where he played the vast majority of the first six seasons in the Major Leagues, to short -- his natural position, the one at which he was drafted back in 2010.

But now that he's a free agent and various teams courting him have different needs on the left side of their infields, would Machado consider moving back to the hot corner? Is it a matter of finding the right fit? The right team? The most amount of money?

"Manny's mindset is to be a shortstop," Machado's longtime coach and baseball mentor Bobby Dickerson told Scott Lauber of Philly.com. "He really wants to play short. But I do think for the correct team in the correct situation and the right contract, all those things, he'd be willing to play third. I don't know this, but I believe it."

After emerging as one of the elite defensive third basemen in the sport early in his career, Machado's performance at short came into question at times in 2018, particularly before he was traded to the Dodgers from the Orioles.

That could mean certain suitors might be wary of how he'd handle the position going forward, especially as the 26-year-old heads toward his late 20s and into his 30s. Given their current rosters, it's possible the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox -- the three known clubs with which Machado is expected to meet, among other mystery teams -- would prefer to deploy him at third.

Asked specifically about whether he thinks Machado would play third base for the Phillies in the wake of their recent acquisition of shortstop Jean Segura, Dickerson offered: "I think if the contract is right, he would. It may have to go an extra five million, or more, or whatever to get him out of [shortstop]. But if the contract is right, I think he would go to third."

Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 12: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB Network insider Joel Sherman gets the sense that it's Machado, adding that Philadelphia could look to sign the 26-year-old infielder and Michael Brantley.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Phillies chose McCutchen over Brantley but if Philly signs Machado over Harper (which appears preference), it���s posssible double back to Brantley for needed LH bat. But Brantley has alternatives could move on b4 that.

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki also hears Machado is first on the team's wish list

"There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper," Zolecki writes. "Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position."

That said, with new acquisiton Jean Segura locked in at shortstop, the Phillies will need to convince Machado to move back to third base. Philadelphia may also need to outbid the Yankees by a notable margin, as New York is believed to be Machado's preference.

 Machado to meet with Yanks, Phils, White Sox and mystery teams
Dec. 11: The biggest transaction on the second day of the Winter Meetings -- at least as of late afternoon -- was the Phillies' deal to sign Andrew McCutchen to a reported three-year, $50 million pact. How does that impact Manny Machado, specifically?

It doesn't really change much, frankly, as McCutchen is expected to handle one of the corner outfield spots in Philly, and the amount of money -- while not insignificant -- shouldn't preclude the Phillies from making any substantial offer to Machado. In short: There's still a fit on the left side of the Phillies' infield, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman pointed out. 

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Brantley is out as a Phillies option since McCutchen deal, but door is still open for Harper (and of course Machado

So what's next for the superstar 26-year-old? Machado is slated to meet with teams most interested in him soon, and Heyman reports that three of them are the Yankees, White Sox and -- yep -- the Phillies, as well as three "mystery teams."

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yanks, White Sox and Phillies are 3 teams that will meet with Manny Machado. The 3 alleged mystery teams remain so.

The takeaways from that? One, those three clubs are in big markets and have money to spend. Two, it's likely that nothing will happen any time soon (think: during the Winter Meetings) on the Machado front, given that he's planning to visit with a number of franchises. 

Video: After Cutch, Phils could still target Harper, Machado

Are Yankees in on Machado, out on Harper?
Dec. 10: With a need at shortstop and a crowded outfield, the Yankees may be in the mix for Manny Machado but not so much for Bryce Harper. If it's a choice between Machado and Harper, it appears New York would lean toward the former -- and might, in fact, be out on the latter, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch noted after GM Brian Cashman said Harper isn't a fit in their loaded outfield or at first base.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: What we learned from Day 1 of the #Yankees #WinterMeetings: they are in on Manny Machado (and others), and out on Bryce Harper.

The question, then, becomes whether the typically deep-pocketed Yankees are serious enough about Machado to meet what is expected to be an asking price in the range of $300 million. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees plan to meet with Machado but won't necessarily pony up to that extent.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees like Manny Machado and will meet with Machado but source says they will not pay $300M for Machado. Phillies, Chisox and mystery teams(?) seen as main competitors.

New York is among the few teams with the financial means to sign Machado to a long-term deal, and it has an immediate need at shortstop, where Didi Gregorius will miss a chunk of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery. To that end, it's not a surprise that Cashman said he has spoken with Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Cashman said he has spoken with Dan Lozano, the agent for Manny Machado, multiple times. They have not spoken in Vegas. ���I���m not going to deny we���ve had a conversation or two.���

Heyman also reported that although New York is "pursuing" Machado, the club is considering other candidates to address its need in the infield, including Reds trade chip Scooter Gennett and versatile veteran free agents Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees are pursuing Machado but they have other infield options ��� Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison and possibly even Scooter Gennett to name 3

Heyman listed the Phillies, White Sox and potential mystery clubs as the Yankees' primary competitors for Machado. And even after trading for James Paxton, the Yankees are still looking to add to their rotation, which has been said to be their priority over pursuing Harper or Machado.

Harper and Machado negotiations could drag beyond Winter Meetings
Dec. 9: Those hoping the free-agent odysseys of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will reach their respective conclusions during the Winter Meetings may be disappointed.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), the history between agents Scott Boras and Dan Lozano could be a major factor in negotiations stretching well beyond this week.

Boras, who represents Harper, used to rep Machado as well before losing him to Lozano in 2011 -- the same year Alex Rodriguez, another former Boras client, joined Lozano. As a result, Boras may have extra motivation to get Harper the bigger deal between this offseason's top two free agents.

"The prevailing assumption in the industry is that Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both," Rosenthal writes. "Therefore, he will want Machado to sign first, securing the negotiating equivalent of 'last licks,' in which he would step to the plate knowing the number to beat. Boras' track record also indicates he would be willing to go to extra innings, moving at his own pace, stretching talks into January, if necessary."

But as Rosenthal points out, Machado isn't necessarily going to sign quickly. While Lozano isn't the same type of showman as Boras, outdueling his counterpart has to at least be on his mind in some capacity, and Machado is reportedly receiving interest from at least six teams, including the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal notes that some rival agents and club executives think the market for Harper will be limited, given the bar Boras is believed to be setting. "It's Philly bidding against Philly," one agent said of the Harper sweepstakes.

White Sox selling Harper and Machado on a bright future
Dec. 8: The White Sox are willing to break the bank to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it may take more than cash to get one of those players to sign on the dotted line. Chicago also offers one of the biggest media markets in sports, but even that might not be enough.

As a 10-season postseason drought hangs over the franchise, the White Sox will need to sell Harper and Machado on the idea that World Series championship contention is right around the corner as their talent-rich farm system -- led by top prospect Eloy Jimenez (No. 3 overall, per MLB Pipeline) -- continues to bear fruit.

Granted, adding Harper or Machado might not make the White Sox instant contenders, even in the underwhelming American League Central.

The club has major needs on the pitching staff, especially with No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech (No. 19 overall) set to miss all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear when No. 3 prospect Dylan Cease (No. 25 overall) and No. 6 prospect Dane Dunning (No. 59 overall) will be ready to contribute to the Major League rotation.

But general manager Rick Hahn thinks other players are clued-in enough to understand what the White Sox are building toward.

"You have to understand these guys are professionals, and they understand deep nuances about each individual franchise," Hahn said, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "From a macro standpoint, the idea of potentially being part of a winner in Chicago has very broad appeal.

"From a nuanced standpoint, the chance to be part of the White Sox organization based upon what our future looks like, futures that these players are familiar with and understand having either seen personally some of these young players play or video or talked to other players about them, it's something that they buy into."

With Tim Anderson at shortstop, Machado would fit better at third base for the White Sox. But if the 26-year-old insists on playing short, it's unlikely the club will let Anderson's presence get in the way. The 25-year-old Anderson is a potentially dynamic player -- he produced 20 homers with 26 steals in 2018 -- but he has major strides to make in the plate-discipline department. Anderson has recorded 428 strikeouts with just 56 walks in 1,643 career plate appearances, contributing to a .286 on-base percentage. 

Manny Machado

Source: Mets, Ramos agree to 2-year contract

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Unable to find a trade they liked for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Mets on Sunday moved on from that pursuit in decisive fashion. A source told MLB.com that the club agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who will form a tandem behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud.

The Mets have not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical.

NEW YORK -- Unable to find a trade they liked for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Mets on Sunday moved on from that pursuit in decisive fashion. A source told MLB.com that the club agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who will form a tandem behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud.

The Mets have not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical.

Ramos has been one of baseball's top offensive catchers for much of this decade, batting .273 with a .758 OPS and an average of 14 home runs per year since 2011. Last season was one of Ramos' best, batting .306 with 15 homers and an .845 OPS in 111 games for the Rays and Phillies. Ramos is also regarded as an excellent pitch framer.

Injuries have been his most prominent issue, including a torn right knee ligament that limited him to 25 games in 2012, and that required another surgery after the 2016 season. But Ramos stayed mostly healthy last season and, in New York, the Mets do not need him to play every day. Ramos can split time with d'Arnaud, another oft-injured catcher who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. The Mets will also have to make a decision on Kevin Plawecki, who is arbitration-eligible and out of Minor League options.

Video: PHI@ATL: Ramos laces a go-ahead 2-run double to left

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said earlier this offseason that other teams have expressed interest in acquiring one of the Mets' catchers via trade, making that a possible avenue to clear roster space.

However the playing time shakes out, the Mets appear set at catcher after spending much of December in pursuit of Realmuto. One of the best backstops in baseball, Realmuto has been coveted by more than a half-dozen teams, but the Mets balked at the reported asking price of young, controllable Major League talent -- Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo or even Noah Syndergaard.

At the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last week, Van Wagenen met with Ramos in person. Then he struck a deal with the 31-year-old, setting the market for catchers just as Van Wagenen did for relievers with his three-year, $30-million offer to Jeurys Familia. In doing so, Van Wagenen appears to have called off his pursuits of Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal and Martin Maldonado, who were also available on the free-agent market.

Now, in mid-December, Van Wagenen has already completed much of what he set out to do this winter. In Ramos, the Mets added to their catching depth with a two-time All-Star. In Familia and Edwin Diaz, the team added two core pieces to a bullpen that ranked 28th in ERA last season.

Also on the Mets' wish list is a right-handed-hitting outfielder -- they have checked into A.J. Pollock and Adam Jones, among others -- and a lefty reliever. Van Wagenen said the Mets are unlikely to pursue top free agents Andrew Miller or Zach Britton to fill the latter hole, likely settling on lower-priced targets.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Wilson Ramos

The latest Harper free-agent rumors

MLB.com

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Could a club coming off a losing season be the one to land Harper?
Dec. 16: The White Sox have been just about as actively linked to Harper as any club this offseason; a sign that they are looking to emerge from their multi-year rebuild and return to relevancy. But do they have the resources and marketability to land Harper, particularly given that they're coming off six straight losing seasons?

It's believed that Harper wants to sign among the richest contracts in history and play for a contender. That limits the free-agent pool to just a small handful of clubs. In an interesting piece for MLB.com, analyst Mike Petriello points out that, while winning is probably important to Harper (and Manny Machado, for that matter), the underlying factor in Harper's decision making will be dollars. 

What type of team typically gives out a mega-deal?

"The thinking goes, Harper and Machado want to win," Petriello writes. "Harper has never won a playoff series. Machado hadn't before joining the Dodgers late in 2018. They won't go to a team that didn't win.

"Perhaps. But is that really true? Think about all the variables that go into a decision this momentous. Sure, winning is important. So are location, fit with the organization, ballpark, teammates, coaches and so on. But in the end, we all know the most important factor here is money. They're going to go where they can get the largest contract, and they've earned the right to do so."

Video: Verducci on offseason changes, Machado and Harper

Petriello adds that nearly 40 percent of all contracts in excess of $100 million have been given out by clubs that were coming off a sub-.500 season. It's logic backed by the hope that a prized talent can help springboard a club by making an immediate impact. 

It's worth noting that the Phillies, despite sitting in first place as late as Aug. 9, finished 80-82 last year and would fit into this criteria. Their big-market budget and ambitious front office has led many to speculate that they will land Harper or Machado this winter.

Would Harper take less money to play for the Yankees?
Dec. 15: Bryce Harper grew up idolizing Mickey Mantle, and in fact has said he wears No. 34 because the digits add up to Mantle's No. 7. Now that he's one of the top two free agents on the market, expected to command a long-term deal in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million, would he take less over a shorter period of time to join the Yankees?

MLB Network Radio's Jeff Joyce and Jim Memolo discussed the notion Saturday, with Joyce suggesting Harper could sign a short deal and then "prove himself" in New York before inking a longer-term deal to stay in the Bronx. 

Though he's coming off a down year at the plate by his lofty standards, Harper still drew an MLB-high 130 walks and launched 34 home runs. He's a six-time All-Star, the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year and '15 Most Valuable Player. And he's only 26 years old.

"How bad does he really want to be a Yankee?" Joyce asked. "Does that overweigh getting the biggest contract of all-time? Does he go to his agent and say, 'Just get me there. Just get me to the Yankees. Doesn't have to be $300 million. I'll take a shorter deal ... If he really wants to be a Yankee that bad, can't you see them trying to find a way to get that done?"

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Will Bryce Harper join the Imperial March? @JeffJoyce19 and @jimmemolo lay out the path. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/oFJvAZZ927

White Sox reportedly have spending limits for Harper, Machado
Dec. 15: The White Sox like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and are hoping to make one of them the centerpiece of their roster as they emerge from a rebuilding period, but it remains to be seen if the club will actually be among the top bidders for the two superstars.

A source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Chicago is unwilling to make a record-setting offer to either player.

"The interest of the White Sox is more measured and modest than frenzied, and within more conventional financial bounds," Olney wrote Saturday for ESPN+ (subscription required).

That might not be enough for either player to choose the White Sox, especially with the team unlikely to be a serious contender in 2019 -- even with a big free-agent splash.

As MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic (subscription required) last week, "the prevailing assumption in the industry is that [agent] Scott Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both." One would assume Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, wants to do the same, or at least come close.

Rosenthal also recently broke down why signing Harper or Machado would be out of character for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has never given out a bigger contract than the six-year, $68 million deal Jose Abreu signed in October 2013.

The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.

While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.

That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.

The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.

The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.

If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."

So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?

Who is the front-runner for Harper?
Dec. 12: The Phillies? The Yankees? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Dodgers? All of those teams -- and a few more -- have been linked to Bryce Harper so far this offseason. But which club appears to be in the lead to land the superstar slugger in free agency?

"The front-runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox," CBS Sports Network analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday. "They're the team with the checkbook open. They're being very aggressive."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���The front runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox.���@JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein that it���s the White Sox who are in the lead for Bryce Harper's services. #T2S pic.twitter.com/XoXndaF0F2

With the Winter Meetings being held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas, the White Sox met with Harper at some point, according to Bowden, who reported that the club stressed the strength of its promising farm system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, as well as infielder Nick Madrigal -- the club's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- are among the big-name, high-upside prospects who have reached the Major Leagues or should arrive soon.

Will the White Sox pull off a surprise splurge on Harper with a record-setting contract to push the franchise from rebuilding mode toward contention mode in an AL Central division that could be up for grabs as soon as 2020?

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

Boras not ruling out Yankees, Nats as suitors for Harper
Dec. 12: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but ruled out the club as a suitor for free agent Bryce Harper earlier this week, saying that there's "no spot" for the 26-year-old in New York's crowded outfield and that using him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

And yet, Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't ready to say the club is out of the running.

"I've never heard the Yankees say that," Boras said at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday when asked about the team being out on Harper. "It might be that they say things to [the media]. I don't know. I wasn't there.

"As far as the Yankees … you're talking about star players. I go back to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees are very adept; they're smart. If they're going to do something, I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they're not doing it, and have every intention of doing something else when it's best for them to do it. When the nurse walks into the room with the thermometer, the issue is not what the thermometer says that day; the issue is, what's the health of the patient when they're ready to leave the hospital? They're not ready to leave the hospital yet."

Whether it's a smokescreen or not, it benefits Boras for other teams to think the deep-pocketed Yankees are interested in Harper. It's also possible that Cashman's comments were the true smokescreen, as Boras suggested.

The Yankees seem to have a deep outfield, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier played a combined 15 games for the club in 2018 due to injuries, while Brett Gardner experienced a steep decline at the plate (86 OPS+). Aaron Hicks has been productive for New York over the past two years, but he has never played more than 137 games in a season and can become a free agent in a year. And with Giancarlo Stanton's injury history, it would be risky for New York to play him in the field every day. That leaves Aaron Judge as the only "sure thing" among the team's outfielders.

Boras also addressed the Nationals, whose principal owner, Mark Lerner, recently acknowledged that he doesn't expect Harper to be back, only for the club's general manager, Mike Rizzo, to say Washington hasn't "closed the door" on a reunion.

"I've talked to Nationals ownership a great deal," Boras said, per MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "I have a very clear understanding, as does Bryce, of their position. We've always had a great relationship and we'll continue to have a great relationship. I think when they say the door is open, I would certainly pay attention to what they're saying."

Phils get McCutchen -- but they're not out on Harper
Dec. 11: The Phillies' first key free-agent acquisition of the Winter Meetings wasn't for Harper. It was for another outfielder -- Andrew McCutchen -- whom they landed Tuesday on a three-year deal. But Philadelphia wants to be a major player in free agency this offseason, so adding McCutchen doesn't take the club out of the running for Harper.

Per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies are still involved in both the Harper and Manny Machado sweepstakes.

Tweet from @ToddZolecki: Told the McCutchen deal does not remove the #Phillies from Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Phils might not feel as pressured to spend stupid money to get them, however. Remains to be seen.

That echoes an earlier report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that McCutchen's signing wouldn't preclude Philadelphia from adding another outfielder. That outfielder could be Harper; it could be someone else (say, Michael Brantley).

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Both @MattGelb and I are hearing same from multiple sources. Told addition of McCutchen would NOT preclude #Phillies from signing another outfielder, whether it���s Harper or someone else. https://t.co/ToylyfCwL7

If it seems like going after Harper on top of McCutchen might make the Phillies outfield too crowded, don't worry. Rosenthal also suggests that getting McCutchen could lead Philadelphia to move one of its younger outfielders in a trade.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Agreement with McCutchen opens up #Phillies to possibility of trading a younger OFer. Sixto Sanchez, the #Phils��� top pitching prospect, also has been involved in numerous trade discussions, sources say.

On the other hand, signing McCutchen could also be a sign that the Phillies are focusing more on Machado over Harper, as far as marquee free-agent targets. NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury noted that possibility.

What would it take for Harper to land in LA?
Dec. 11: As agent Scott Boras continues to sell Bryce Harper as a player who can make a LeBron James-like impact, both on and off the field, could the 26-year-old outfielder follow in the NBA superstar's footsteps and head to Los Angeles?

It's certainly not out of the question, though it remains unclear if the Dodgers plan to make an aggressive play for the free agent. The contract that Harper is expected to command would be out of character for the Andrew Friedman-led Dodgers front office, which hasn't handed out more than $93 million to any one player despite consistently maintaining a high payroll.

As MLB Network insider Joel Sherman noted in a column for the New York Post on Tuesday, Los Angeles is hesitant to tie up a large portion of its future payroll, which could reduce its flexibility as the retooling Giants and D-backs become serious contenders in the National League West again within the next few years.

But Sherman still envisions a scenario in which Harper lands with the Dodgers.

"Again, it takes dominoes falling," Sherman writes. "Manny Machado would sign with the Phillies; the Nationals, Cardinals and Yankees really would continue to have no interest in Harper; and the only substantial long-term offers would come from someplace like the White Sox. In that scenario, could Harper instead pivot to accept a four-year deal from the Dodgers for a record annual amount and, say, an opt-out after two years to get back into free agency either after his age-27 or -29 season?"

It may also take a trade or two to clear room for Harper in Los Angeles, as the Dodgers have a deep outfield. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the club has talked to other teams about moving two players from the group of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger, though there has been no indication that those discussions are connected to Harper.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Dodgers have talked to other teams about moving two outfielders among the group of Kemp, Puig, Pederson, Bellinger, and as they look to re-shape payroll, they are also are prepared to move starting pitchers Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

Can White Sox capitalize on opportunity to land Harper?
Dec. 11: The possibility of the White Sox winning the Bryce Harper sweepstakes "seemingly is growing more realistic," according to Ken Rosenthal's latest column for The Athletic on Tuesday (subscription required). But the question remains, would owner Jerry Reinsdorf be willing to break the bank?

As the Winter Meetings enter their second day, Rosenthal lays out the factors the White Sox have going for and against them. In their favor: other suitors dropping out on Harper, and financial flexibility. Not so much in their favor: the size and type of the deal Harper wants.

Two teams that could have been major players for Harper, the Yankees and Nationals, appear to have dropped out of the running, based on comments from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Nats owner Mark Lerner in the last few days. And sources have told Rosenthal that another pair of teams that looked like potential landing spots, the Cubs and Cardinals, are also not engaged in pursuit of the superstar outfielder. Teams like the Dodgers and Phillies will likely go after Harper, per Rosenthal, as well as others, but the White Sox look like they might see less competition than they could have.

Rosenthal also notes that no other team has a more favorable payroll situation to making room for Harper. The White Sox have just over $50 million committed for 2019… and just over $5 million committed for 2020. In 2021 and '22, they have just one player under contract, shortstop Tim Anderson.

So they're in prime position to make a marquee signing, especially in a wide-open American League Central. But to actually get Harper, they'd need to hand out a deal the likes of which the franchise never has before.

The White Sox's largest contract ever awarded is Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million deal signed in 2013. Reinsdorf does not typically give free agents big contracts, and on top of that a source told Rosenthal that Reinsdorf has privately expressed doubt that his club will win the bidding war for Harper. Plus, Harper also likely wants a deal with multiple opt-outs, which would mean the White Sox risking him leaving just as they were poised to contend.

But Chicago's owner has surprised before -- Rosenthal cites his "stunning" signing of Albert Belle to a five-year, $55 million deal in November 1996 -- and now would be the perfect time to do it again.

Does Harper fit with Yankees?
Dec. 10: The Yankees continue to be mentioned as a team that could be a fit for Bryce Harper, but could the club actually fit Harper?

When asked about the superstar, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said there's "no spot" for him in New York's crowded outfield and that deploying him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Asked about Bryce Harper, Brian Cashman rattled off the names of his six outfielders and said there���s no spot. Reiterated that playing Harper at first base isn���t an option for the Yankees.

Indeed, with incumbent starters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, as well as returning options Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier as backups, the club is more than set in the outfield. And while the topic of Harper as a first baseman has been floated by his agent, Scott Boras, that possibility doesn't appear to interest Cashman, despite the Yankees relying on the still-unproven Luke Voit and Greg Bird at the position.

If that wasn't a forceful enough take on Harper, Cashman followed up by saying, "I'm surprised [the media is] still asking" about the team's interest, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch relayed.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Cashman said that at no point this winter did he talk about getting an outfielder. ���The Harper stuff, I���m surprised you���re still asking.���

Rizzo: Nats not closing door on Harper
Dec. 10: Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner's candid interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday drew widespread publicity, as Lerner acknowledged that the reported 10-year, $300 million offer Bryce Harper rejected at the end of the regular season was "the best we can do," and indicated that he didn't expect the free-agent outfielder to be back.

And yet, a reunion between Harper and Washington is a possibility that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn't ruling out.

"We haven't closed the door on [Harper]," Rizzo said Monday on MLB Network Radio. "He's a big part of our franchise. He's near and dear to my heart personally, and professionally he's a great player."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Mike Rizzo: "We haven't closed the door on Bryce Harper."Plot: [Thickens]#Nationals GM at the #WinterMeetings: pic.twitter.com/I5Aq4SzQiP

The Nats have been one of the busier teams this offseason, acquiring Patrick Corbin, Trevor Rosenthal, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, and it's unclear if the club will still be open to giving Harper $300 million should the 26-year-old come back to the negotiating table. But with rivals such as the Phillies expected to be among the bidders for Harper, it is better for the Nats if other teams think Washington might still be in.

Harper to the Cards still a long shot
Dec. 10: The Cardinals got one elite bat in Paul Goldschmidt. Bryce Harper could push them to another level. But as exciting as a lineup anchored by Harper and Goldschmidt would be, that scenario remains unlikely, according to a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal on Monday (subscription required).

Rosenthal cites St. Louis' roster inflexibility as a chief obstacle to signing Harper, even though the Cards might have the payroll flexibility to give the superstar outfielder the type of long-term deal he's looking for.

For one thing, the Cardinals have $49.5 million tied up in Dexter Fowler over the next three seasons, and Rosenthal calls Fowler "virtually impossible to trade" after Fowler struggled through injuries and poor performance in 2018.

Another option to make room for Harper would be to try to move Marcell Ozuna, but he'd also be difficult to trade. Ozuna just had a right shoulder procedure this offseason, and he's also likely to make a sizeable salary in his last year of arbitration before hitting free agency next offseason. Rosenthal shoots down the idea of St. Louis simply cutting ties with Ozuna and eating the money as unreasonable -- both based on how the organization typically acts and because there's a solid chance Ozuna returns healthy and hits like he did in his All-Star 2017 season, when he clubbed 37 homers for the Marlins.

There is one outfielder the Cardinals might reasonably trade: Jose Martinez. But Martinez doesn't slot in as a starter anyway, and his cheap salary could mean St. Louis keeps him around as a bat off the bench.

Rather than an all-out pursuit of Harper, Rosenthal thinks the Cardinals' priority will be to sign a top left-handed reliever like Andrew Miller or Zach Britton.

Crowded Yankees outfield may be obstacle to Harper signing
Dec. 9: The Yankees are among the rumored destinations for Bryce Harper, and while they plan to meet with the free-agent star, there may be some obstacles to any potential signing.

New York is reportedly questioning if there's a place for Harper due to their surplus of outfielders -- including Giancarlo Stanton, who's due to earn $25 million-$32 million per year through 2027 -- per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees are also in the mix for shortstop Manny Machado, who seems to be a more natural fit given Didi Gregorius will miss much of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The club is said to be prioritizing acquiring another starting pitcher, even after the James Paxton trade, and the price to acquire Harper may prove too high, as Heyman also said New York is unwilling to offer Machado the $300 million contract both he and Harper are rumored to be seeking or perhaps exceed. Harper already turned down a reported 10-year, $300 million offer to remain in Washington, D.C.

Still, the Yankees are among the few teams with the financial means to sign a marquee free agent like Harper. And with Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner publicly acknowledging he doesn't expect Harper to return to the club, the pool of teams that would conceivably add a free-agent contract the size of Harper's to their payroll has shrunk by one.

Boras' handbook compares Harper to LeBron James
Dec. 9: Agent Scott Boras is known for compiling expansive free-agent handbooks extolling his clients' achievements and qualities, and his book on Bryce Harper sounds like a doozy.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the document Boras has been giving to Harper suitors is 118 pages and features comparisons both predictable and provocative, an example of the latter being LeBron James.

"My goal in this thing is to let teams know what they're getting," Boras said. "That's why we brought in the LeBron comparisons. A lot of people don't know what he's done by the age of 25, and how that compares to what LeBron James did at 25. You get a very clear path on how hard it is to achieve a standard of excellence in an arena where you're both No. 1 picks, both rookies of year, both MVPs, and set a standard that no one can meet.

"The way to articulate this in true business form is look at the Nats' franchise. It was worth $480 to $500 million before he got there, and now it's worth more than $2 billion. TV ratings have tripled.

"Every GM in baseball wants him because he fills a need, but the owners are pursuing Bryce Harper because they know he can also make them a billion dollars over a period of years."

Per Nightengale, teams haven't made formal bids to Harper yet, nor is Boras making specific contract demands.

"The only thing we know for sure," one GM said, "is that he's looking for more than 10 years and $300 million."

Of course, 10 years and $300 million is what the Nationals reportedly offered at the end of the regular season, and Harper rejected it, prompting Nats owner Mark Lerner to indicate that he didn't think Harper would be back in a revealing interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday.

"Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' We went right to the finish line very quickly,' Lerner said. "And we said, 'If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we'll see whether we can finish it up.' But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that."

Added Lerner: "If he comes back [to the negotiating table], it's a strong possibility that we won't be able to make it work. But I really don't expect him to come back at this point. I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not Boras' MO to leave money on the table."

Harper and Machado negotiations could drag beyond Winter Meetings
Dec. 9: Those hoping the free-agent odysseys of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will reach their respective conclusions during the Winter Meetings may be disappointed.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), the history between agents Scott Boras and Dan Lozano could be a major factor in negotiations stretching well beyond this week.

Boras, who represents Harper, used to rep Machado as well before losing him to Lozano in 2011 -- the same year Alex Rodriguez, another former Boras client, joined Lozano. As a result, Boras may have extra motivation to get Harper the bigger deal between this offseason's top two free agents.

"The prevailing assumption in the industry is that Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both," Rosenthal writes. "Therefore, he will want Machado to sign first, securing the negotiating equivalent of 'last licks,' in which he would step to the plate knowing the number to beat. Boras' track record also indicates he would be willing to go to extra innings, moving at his own pace, stretching talks into January, if necessary."

But as Rosenthal points out, Machado isn't necessarily going to sign quickly. While Lozano isn't the same type of showman as Boras, outdueling his counterpart has to at least be on his mind in some capacity, and Machado is reportedly receiving interest from at least six teams, including the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal notes that some rival agents and club executives think the market for Harper will be limited, given the bar Boras is believed to be setting. "It's Philly bidding against Philly," one agent said of the Harper sweepstakes.

White Sox selling Harper and Machado on a bright future
Dec. 8: The White Sox are willing to break the bank to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it may take more than cash to get one of those players to sign on the dotted line. Chicago also offers one of the biggest media markets in sports, but even that might not be enough.

As a 10-season postseason drought hangs over the franchise, the White Sox will need to sell Harper and Machado on the idea that World Series championship contention is right around the corner as their talent-rich farm system -- led by top prospect Eloy Jimenez (No. 3 overall, per MLB Pipeline) -- continues to bear fruit.

Granted, adding Harper or Machado might not make the White Sox instant contenders, even in the underwhelming American League Central.

The club has major needs on the pitching staff, especially with No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech (No. 19 overall) set to miss all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear when No. 3 prospect Dylan Cease (No. 25 overall) and No. 6 prospect Dane Dunning (No. 59 overall) will be ready to contribute to the Major League rotation.

But general manager Rick Hahn thinks other players are clued-in enough to understand what the White Sox are building toward.

"You have to understand these guys are professionals, and they understand deep nuances about each individual franchise," Hahn said, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "From a macro standpoint, the idea of potentially being part of a winner in Chicago has very broad appeal.

"From a nuanced standpoint, the chance to be part of the White Sox organization based upon what our future looks like, futures that these players are familiar with and understand having either seen personally some of these young players play or video or talked to other players about them, it's something that they buy into."

While Chicago is likely planning for Jimenez to take over in left field at some point next season, Harper would fit perfectly into the right-field vacancy created when the club non-tendered Avisail Garcia, and the 26-year-old would also give the White Sox a strong left-right tandem of Harper and Jose Abreu in the middle of the order.

Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 7: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. While they recently traded for infielder Jean Segura from the Mariners, they even more recently missed out on splurging on lefty Patrick Corbin, so the possibility that they could land Harper and/or Machado likely only increased.

But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB.com's Todd Zolecki weighs exactly that question. His answer?

"There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper. Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position. It is why Machado has a career 33.8 WAR, while Harper has a career 27.4 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. If the Phils can convince Machado to play third base -- his best position -- they will have one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball for years. Oh, Machado could come at a lower price than Harper, too."

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing otherwise, though, writing Thursday for Fancred Sports that Harper "is believed to be their top target." However, a confidant of Harper thinks the outfielder is "lukewarm on Philly, as a city, anyway."

If that's the case, then perhaps Machado is the more likely option, whether the Phillies prefer Harper or not. 

Could Cubs be lurking for Harper?
Dec. 4: Despite their perceived financial limitations and with many other clubs in the market for Harper, it's long seemed destined that the Cubs will make at least some push to acquire the six-time All-Star. 

Harper has been connected to the Cubs for some time. He is close friends with Kris Bryant, has a dog named Wrigley and has made various social media quips in recent years poking at his perceived allure for potentially playing on the North Side.

In an article published on Monday for The Athletic (subscription required), Patrick Mooney outlines the logistics for why Chicago will at least check in on Harper soon, particularly with the Winter Meetings beginning on Sunday in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas. 

"Knowing the personalities involved and how they operate, it wouldn't make sense for [president of baseball operations Theo] Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to decline the opportunity to get some face time with a superstar player, or for super-agent Scott Boras to exclude a big-market team like the Cubs from the negotiations," Mooney writes. 

Epstein has made bold deals in years past when he's explicitly outlined intentions to avoid such moves. After a last-place finish in 2014, he signed Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal. He also shelled out $184 million to Jason Heyward the following offseason for a nine-year contract, and $126 million over six years to Yu Darvish last year. 

Video: Cubs may need to adjust roster to fit Bryce Harper

But the Cubs' financial framework for 2019 is much different than in years past. Mooney outlines that the Cubs already have committed roughly $160 million to 13 players next year, nearly an additional $40 million in projected arbitration raises, with a $13 million earmark for player benefits and an estimate of $5-10 million in what he describes as the "Trade Deadline fund" that the front office holds in reserve. That all puts the Cubs around $220 million in payroll, per Mooney, which is in line to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax that is set for $206 million for 2019.  

Yet despite all of the signs indicating the Cubs won't be in the market for Harper, the club doesn't seem inclined to stand pat -- especially after losing the division lead that it held nearly all season to the Brewers in Game 163 and the NL Wild Card Game against the Rockies at home.  

"Epstein's aggressive style and competitive nature also won't let him bring back essentially the same group of players and hope for different results," Mooney writes. 

2018-19 free agents, position by position

MLB.com

By now, you probably know this year's big-name free agents.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the headliners. There's also Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and A.J. Pollock. But what about the rest?

By now, you probably know this year's big-name free agents.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the headliners. There's also Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and A.J. Pollock. But what about the rest?

Below is a list of notable free agents, grouped by position -- using a player's most-played position in 2018 -- and ranked by '18 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Each player's 2019 seasonal age and '18 regular-season WAR total are included in parentheses next to his name. (WAR totals are from FanGraphs.)

Catchers
Yasmani Grandal (30 years old, 3.6 WAR)
Wilson Ramos (31, 2.4)
Kurt Suzuki (35, 2.0) -- Signed 2-year deal with WSH (11/20).
Robinson Chirinos (35, 1.6) -- Signed 1-year deal with HOU (12/6).
Martin Maldonado (32, 0.9)
Nick Hundley (35, 0.9)
Matt Wieters (33, 0.9)
A.J. Ellis (38, 0.8)
Devin Mesoraco (31, 0.7)
Jonathan Lucroy (33, 0.6)
Chris Herrmann (31, 0.6) -- Signed 1-year deal with OAK (12/11).
Brian McCann (35, 0.5) -- Signed 1-year deal with ATL (11/26).
Rene Rivera (35, 0.3)
Juan Graterol, C (29, 0.1) -- non-tendered
Caleb Joseph (32, 0.0) -- non-tendered
James McCann (28, -0.1) -- Agreed to 1-year deal with CWS (12/14).
Chris Stewart (37, -0.1)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (34, -0.2)
Jose Lobaton (34, -0.3) -- Agreed to MiLB deal with SEA (12/10)
Drew Butera (35, -0.3)
Jeff Mathis (36, -0.5) -- Signed 2-year deal with TEX (11/19).
Bobby Wilson (36, -0.5) -- Signed MiLB deal with DET (12/5).
Stephen Vogt (34, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.

First basemen
Steve Pearce (36 years old, 1.6 WAR) -- Signed 1-year deal with BOS (11/16).
Matt Adams (30, 0.8) -- Agreed to 1-year deal with WSH (12/15).
Wilmer Flores (27, 0.5) -- non-tendered
Justin Bour (30, 0.5) -- Signed 1-year deal with LAA (12/15).
Mark Reynolds (35, 0.1)
Lucas Duda (32, 0.0)
Adam Rosales (36, -0.1)
Hanley Ramirez (35, -0.2)
Logan Morrison (31, -0.7)

Second basemen
Jed Lowrie (35 years old, 4.9 WAR)
Asdrubal Cabrera (33, 2.7)
Ian Kinsler (37, 2.3) -- Agreed to 2-year deal with SD (12/14).
DJ LeMahieu (30, 2.0)
Daniel Descalso (32, 1.6)
Brian Dozier (32, 0.8)
Daniel Murphy (34, 0.8)
Jonathan Schoop (27, 0.5) -- Signed 1-year deal with MIN (12/6).
Ronald Torreyes (26, 0.4) -- Signed 1-year deal with MIN (12/6).
Josh Harrison (31, 0.3)
Andrew Romine (33, 0.1)
Neil Walker (33, 0.1)
Sean Rodriguez (34, 0.0)
Gordon Beckham (32, -0.1)
Logan Forsythe (32, -0.2)
Brandon Phillips (38, -0.3)

Third basemen
Eduardo Escobar (30 years old, 3.5 WAR) -- Signed 3-year deal with ARI (10/22).
Mike Moustakas (30, 2.4)
Josh Donaldson (33, 1.3) -- Signed 1-year deal with ATL (11/26).
Jung Ho Kang (32, 0.0) -- Signed 1-year deal with PIT (11/8).
Chase Headley (35, -0.4)
Ryan Flaherty (32, -0.4)
Danny Valencia (34, -0.4)
Jose Reyes (36, -0.9)
Yangervis Solarte (31, -1.3) -- non-tendered

Shortstops
Manny Machado (26 years old, 6.2 WAR)
Jose Iglesias (29, 2.5)
Freddy Galvis (29, 1.2)
Jordy Mercer (32, 1.0) -- Signed 1-year deal with DET (12/14).
Adeiny Hechavarria (30, 0.4)
Alcides Escobar (32, -0.3)
Tim Beckham (28, -0.5) -- non-tendered
Eric Sogard (33, -0.8)
Troy Tulowitzki (34, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.

Left fielders
Michael Brantley (32 years old, 3.5 WAR)
Marwin Gonzalez (30, 1.6)
Denard Span (35, 1.5)
Curtis Granderson (38, 0.9)
Derek Dietrich (29, 0.8)
Craig Gentry (35, 0.6)
Cameron Maybin (32, 0.5)
Matt Joyce (34, 0.2)
Matt Holliday (39, 0.1)
Gerardo Parra (32, 0.0)
Gregor Blanco (35, -0.7)
Hunter Pence (36, -0.9)

Center fielders
A.J. Pollock (31 years old, 2.5 WAR)
Adam Jones (33, 0.5)
Billy Hamilton (28, 1.3) -- Signed 1-year deal with mutual option for 2020 with KC (12/10).
Gorkys Hernandez (31, 0.1) -- Agreed to MiLB deal with BOS (12/11).
Eric Young Jr. (34, -0.3)
Rajai Davis (38, -0.2)
Austin Jackson (32, -1.0)

Right fielders
Bryce Harper (26 years old, 3.5 WAR)
Andrew McCutchen (32, 2.6) -- Signed 3-year deal with PHI (12/12).
Nick Markakis (35, 2.6)
Carlos Gonzalez (33, 1.7)
Jose Bautista (38, 1.0)
Jon Jay (33, 0.8)
Lonnie Chisenhall (30, 0.8) -- Signed 1-year deal with PIT (11/27).
Robbie Grossman (29, 0.7) -- non-tendered
Melky Cabrera (34, 0.4)
Brandon Guyer (33, 0.1)
Avisail Garcia (28, 0.0) -- non-tendered
Aristides Aquino (24, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Carlos Gomez (33, -0.5)
Chris Young (35, -0.5)
Chris Owings (27, -0.8) -- Signed 1-year deal with KC (12/5).

Designated hitters
Nelson Cruz (38 years old, 2.5 WAR)
Matt Davidson (28, 0.8) -- non-tendered
Evan Gattis (32, 0.0)
Pedro Alvarez (32, -0.2) -- Signed MiLB deal with MIA (12/3).

Starting pitchers
Patrick Corbin (29 years old, 6.3 WAR) -- Signed 6-year deal with WSH (12/7).
Dallas Keuchel (31, 3.6)
J.A. Happ (36, 3.2) -- Agreed to 2-year deal with NYY (12/12).
Charlie Morton (35, 3.1) -- Agreed to 2-year deal with TB (12/12).
Lance Lynn (32, 2.9) -- Agreed to 3-year deal with TEX (12/12).
CC Sabathia (38, 2.5) -- Signed 1-year deal with NYY (11/7).
Anibal Sanchez (35, 2.4)
Nathan Eovaldi (29, 2.2) -- Signed 4-year deal with BOS (12/6).
Gio Gonzalez (33, 2.0)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (32, 2.0) -- Accepted qualifying offer from LAD (11/12).
Trevor Cahill (31, 2.0)
Derek Holland (32, 2.0)
Clay Buchholz (34, 1.9)
Wade Miley (32, 1.5)
Matt Harvey (30, 1.4)
Mike Fiers (33, 1.4) -- non-tendered
Jeremy Hellickson (32, 1.2)
Garrett Richards (32, 1.0) -- Signed 2-year deal with SD (12/7).
Tyson Ross (32, 1.0) -- Signed 1-year deal with DET (12/10).
Brett Anderson (31, 0.9)
James Shields (37, 0.8)
Jason Hammel (36, 0.8)
Edwin Jackson (35, 0.7)
Matt Shoemaker (32, 0.6) -- non-tendered
Adam Wainwright (37, 0.5) -- Signed 1-year deal with STL (10/11).
Marco Estrada (35, 0.5)
Francisco Liriano (35, 0.3)
Doug Fister (35, 0.3)
Bartolo Colon (46, 0.2)
Yovani Gallardo (33, 0.1)
Jaime Garcia (32, 0.0)
Matt Moore (30, 0.0) -- Signed 1-year deal with DET (12/4).
Sam Howard (25, 0.0) -- non-tendered
Martin Perez (28, -0.2)
Shelby Miller (28, -0.2) -- non-tendered
Drew Pomeranz (30, -0.3)
Miguel Gonzalez (35, -0.3)
Kendall Graveman (27, -0.4) -- non-tendered
Chris Tillman (31, -0.4)
Ervin Santana (36, -0.5)
Yusei Kikuchi (28, N/A) -- Posted by Japan's Seibu Lions (12/3).
Nate Karns (31, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.

Relief pitchers
Adam Ottavino (33 years old, 2.0 WAR)
Jeurys Familia (29, 1.8) -- Signed 3-year deal with NYM (12/14).
Joakim Soria (35, 1.8)
David Robertson (34, 1.5)
Craig Kimbrel (31, 1.5)
Jesse Chavez (35, 1.2) -- Signed 2-year deal with TEX (11/30).
Oliver Perez (37, 1.1)
Luis Avilan (29, 0.9) -- non-tendered
Tony Sipp (35, 0.9)
Zach Duke (36, 0.9)
Brad Brach (33, 0.7)
Nick Vincent (32, 0.7)
Joe Kelly (31, 0.7) -- Agreed to 3-year deal with LAD (12/13).
Jordan Lyles (28, 0.6) -- Agreed to deal with PIT (12/11).
Sergio Romo (36, 0.5)
Jake Diekman (32, 0.5)
Justin Wilson (31, 0.5)
Tyler Clippard (34, 0.5)
Shawn Kelley (35, 0.5)
Xavier Cedeno (32, 0.5) -- non-tendered
Andrew Miller (34, 0.4)
Kelvin Herrera (29, 0.4)
Greg Holland (33, 0.3)
Tony Barnette (35, 0.3)
Aaron Loup (31, 0.3)
Adam Warren (31, 0.3)
John Axford (36, 0.2)
Bud Norris (34, 0.2)
Ryan Madson (38, 0.2)
Dan Jennings (31, 0.2) -- non-tendered
Jeanmar Gomez (31, 0.2)
Alex Wilson (32, 0.2) -- non-tendered
Zach Britton (31, 0.1)
Santiago Casilla (38, 0.1)
Carson Smith (29, 0.1)
Cory Gearrin (32, 0.1) -- non-tendered
Ricardo Rodriguez (26, 0.1) -- non-tendered
Cody Allen (30, 0.0)
Jorge De La Rosa (38, 0.0)
Justin Hancock (28, 0.0) -- non-tendered
Fernando Salas (34, 0.0)
Zach McAllister (31, 0.0)
Blake Parker (31, 0.0) -- non-tendered
Blake Wood (33, 0.0)
Daniel Hudson (32, -0.1)
Jerry Blevins (35, -0.1)
Brad Boxberger (30, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Matt Bush (32, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Adrian Sampson (27, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Allen Webster (28, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Zac Curtis (26, -0.1) -- non-tendered
Hunter Strickland (30, -0.2) -- non-tendered
Matt Belisle (39, -0.2)
AJ Ramos (32, -0.2)
Hector Santiago (31, -0.2)
Jim Johnson (36, -0.3)
Randall Delgado (29, -0.3)
Boone Logan (34, -0.3)
Peter Moylan (40, -0.4)
Tim Collins (29, -0.4)
Junichi Tazawa (33, -0.5)
Brandon Maurer (28, -0.8)
Blaine Boyer (37, -0.9)
Josh Tomlin (34, -1.3)
David Phelps (32, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.
Joaquin Benoit (41, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.
Jandel Gustave (26, N/A) -- Didn't appear in MLB in 2018.
Jason Adam (27, -0.4) -- Non-tendered, didn't appear in MLB in 2018.
Andres Machado (25, N/A) -- Non-tendered, didn't appear in MLB in 2018.
Samir Duenez (22, N/A) -- Non-tendered, didn't appear in MLB in 2018.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Source: Rangers mull dealing Minor to Phillies

Veteran lefty may net young, controllable pitching Texas covets
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Phillies have expressed interest in left-hander Mike Minor, who is currently the Rangers' No. 1 starter. It is a move Texas has to consider because Philadelphia is deep in young, controllable pitching.

Acquiring young pitching has been the Rangers' goal this offseason, and there could be an attractive match with the Phillies. One source said the Rangers would be willing to trade Minor if the Phillies are willing to give up at least a couple of their better young pitching prospects.

ARLINGTON -- The Phillies have expressed interest in left-hander Mike Minor, who is currently the Rangers' No. 1 starter. It is a move Texas has to consider because Philadelphia is deep in young, controllable pitching.

Acquiring young pitching has been the Rangers' goal this offseason, and there could be an attractive match with the Phillies. One source said the Rangers would be willing to trade Minor if the Phillies are willing to give up at least a couple of their better young pitching prospects.

"We are still in the pursuit [stage]," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said about the overall quest for young pitching. "We probably spent more [time] overall discussing with other teams some of the players on our club that they are interested in, [to] see what fits are there."

Minor made a successful transition to the rotation this past season after an outstanding year as a reliever for the Royals in 2017. He was 12-8 with a 4.18 ERA in the first season of a three-year contract. The Phillies could also be interested in Minor as a reliever and their interest may depend on if they land free agent left-hander Andrew Miller.

The Phillies are deep in young pitching -- including left-handers Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin, plus right-handers Enyel De Los Santos and Drew Anderson. All were at Triple-A at the end of last season.

Some of the Phillies' best pitching prospects are in the lower levels of the Minors. Right-handers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina, and left-handers David Parkinson and Kyle Young were in Class A, while left-hander JoJo Romero was at Double-A.

• The Rangers are among the teams showing interest in free-agent righty Mike Fiers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. The Reds, Giants and Nationals are also considered to be in the mix.

Fiers, 33, split the season with the Tigers and the Athletics, going 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 30 starts and one relief appearance. He would give the Rangers a third proven starter behind Minor and right-hander Lance Lynn. The Rangers reached an agreement on a three-year, $30 million contract with Lynn at the Winter Meetings, but an official announcement is pending a physical.

• Texas has not announced it yet, but it reached an agreement during the Winter Meetings on a Minor League contract with outfielder Danny Santana. He has 364 games of Major League experience with the Twins and Braves. He owns a career batting average of .256 with a .292 on-base percentage and a .375 slugging percentage.

Video: CIN@ATL: Santana hits game-tying RBI double to right

• The Rangers are also working on a Minor League contract for right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero. He was 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA in 18 starts and 16 relief appearances for the Mets in 2017 before missing all of last season because of Tommy John surgery.

• Texas claimed infielder Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the Padres at the Winter Meetings, but he may end up playing in the Korea Baseball Organization.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Mike Minor

White Sox acquire Alonso in deal with Tribe

Veteran is Machado's brother-in-law; expected to split time between first base, DH
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- It doesn't take much of an internet search to find out first baseman Yonder Alonso is the brother-in-law of premium free agent Manny Machado.

That same search turns up that the White Sox are reportedly meeting with Machado this coming week. So, the addition of Alonso via trade from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a move made official on Saturday morning, figures to help the recruitment cause.

CHICAGO -- It doesn't take much of an internet search to find out first baseman Yonder Alonso is the brother-in-law of premium free agent Manny Machado.

That same search turns up that the White Sox are reportedly meeting with Machado this coming week. So, the addition of Alonso via trade from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a move made official on Saturday morning, figures to help the recruitment cause.

Hot Stove Tracker

But general manager Rick Hahn, speaking on a conference call on Saturday before going to work the scoreboard at one of his sons' youth hockey games, pointed out this deal was much more than a family affair.

"Fundamentally this is a baseball deal," Hahn said. "We feel this makes us better.

Video: Hahn on White Sox adding Alonso in deal with Indians

"We like how Yonder fits in between the lines and in the clubhouse, and helps further what we're trying to accomplish in 2019 and beyond. The potential ancillary benefits to it in terms of his relationships with others really can't be part of pulling the trigger in making the decision to acquire a big league player, especially a veteran one with this type of contract commitment."

Alonso, 31, hit .250 with 23 home runs, 83 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .738 OPS in '18. He played 138 games at first base for the American League Central champions, and he will split time with Jose Abreu between first and designated hitter. Abreu, who enters his last year of White Sox contractual control, played 114 games at first and served as DH 13 times during an '18 campaign marked with a couple of late injuries.

Abreu has not been a huge fan of the DH role, and Alonso only DHd once in each of the past two seasons. But Hahn talked to Abreu prior to the trade on Friday, and he's excited to have his good friend join the team.

Video: White Sox trade for Yonder Alonso

"If he had his preference, he'd play 162 games per year, all of them at first base," Hahn said of Abreu. "Ultimately as he's gotten older and he's seen the seven and a half or longer month grind as part of being a big leaguer, he knows there's benefit to being off his feet and pacing himself, so he can be strong and continue to be the powerful offensive force that he is at the big league level."

Alonso has an $8 million salary for 2019 and a $9 million option for '20 with a $1 million buyout. Per Cot's Contracts, Alonso's 2020 option is guaranteed if he passes a physical after the 2019 season and has 550 plate appearances in 2019 or 1,100 plate appearances in '18-19 combined.

Plenty of contractual room exists for the White Sox even after adding Alonso's salary, as Spotrac has them just over $33 million pre-arbitration for '19. This Alonso move, which followed the free-agent signing of catcher James McCann on Friday yet to be announced by the White Sox, might indicate a change in direction from fellow premium free agent Bryce Harper. Or the relationship between Machado and Alonso could be just an interesting side note.

Regardless of the potential ancillary benefits mentioned by Hahn, the White Sox are happy to add a player in Alonso, who they pursued via free agency last offseason and have scouted since his days at the University of Miami.

"He provides a nice balance in our lineup and has nothing but a great reputation in terms of his game preparation, his professionalism, and the element of veteran leadership he will add to our clubhouse," Hahn said. "We certainly feel like it improves us in 2019 and like the potential of having him around in 2020 as well."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yonder Alonso

Indians send Alonso to White Sox, free up cash

Latest deals trim roughly $18M from payroll; Tribe also nets OF Call
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- When the Indians acquired both Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers in a three-team deal with the Mariners and Rays on Thursday, the writing was on the wall for Yonder Alonso, who was no longer a clear roster fit on a team suddenly loaded with first-base types.

That wall did not lie. The Indians traded Alonso to the division-rival White Sox on Friday for Minor League outfielder Alex Call. The club officially announced the deal on Saturday morning.

CLEVELAND -- When the Indians acquired both Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers in a three-team deal with the Mariners and Rays on Thursday, the writing was on the wall for Yonder Alonso, who was no longer a clear roster fit on a team suddenly loaded with first-base types.

That wall did not lie. The Indians traded Alonso to the division-rival White Sox on Friday for Minor League outfielder Alex Call. The club officially announced the deal on Saturday morning.

"We had been in conversations with a variety of teams [about] Yonder as we were moving things forward with the three-team trade with Seattle and Tampa Bay," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "So we developed an understanding and a landscape for Yonder -- and the White Sox emerged