The past few weeks have been chock full of rumors surrounding superstar free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Many of these rumors, especially the ones regarding Harper’s potential long-term destination, have surrounded the Philadelphia Phillies, who finished third in the National League East Division with an 80-82 record last year. While the Phillies appear to be able to afford either Harper or Machado and sign one of them to a contract in the $300 million range over 10 years or so, a new op-ed suggests that the team would be better off exercising patience and signing Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout when he becomes a free agent.
In an opinion piece published early Tuesday, PennLive’s David Jones started out by saying he doesn’t like Harper as a player and believes it would be foolish for the Phillies to invest “$350 million or more” in the six-time MLB All-Star outfielder and sign him to a long-term contract. According to Jones, Harper is a player who wouldn’t feel any sort of attachment to Philadelphia and is more of a “hired gun” whose sole objective in free agency is to sign the biggest contract of his career.
While Jones acknowledged that Harper could potentially tally 45 home runs while playing home games at the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, he added that the Phillies’ “glory days” ended when they started signing “quick-hit mercenary” free agents. Jones also brought up how former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard underperformed after signing a massive contract extension in 2012, as further detailed in this 2014 report from Business Insider, and how several other superstars signed to long-term contracts in the past failed to live up to expectations.
“Know why nobody is budging in this game of chicken between [Harper’s agent Scott Boras] and all the potential Harper suitors? Are you sick of the wait? Maybe some GMs and owners have finally figured out that long-term big-money contracts aren’t the answer,” Jones opined.
Although PennLive’s Jones mostly focused on how he feels Bryce Harper won’t be a good fit for the Philadelphia Phillies, he also mentioned Manny Machado, pointing out that he might be a better fit at third base because of his defensive skills, but possibly won’t be a feasible long-term solution either.
“Do you really think Manny being Manny, playing hard when he feels like it, jogging through playoff games like he did last fall with the [Los Angeles] Dodgers, is gonna wear well in Philadelphia? Not a fit.”
Instead of going after Harper and Machado, Jones believes the Phillies should wait until two-time American League MVP Mike Trout becomes eligible for free agency in November 2020. As explained by Jones, Trout is someone who “loves” Philadelphia, as he spends as much time as he can in the city when he isn’t “busting his a** for the aimless Angels.” Jones added that Trout, a Millville, New Jersey, native who is a lifelong fan of Philadelphia sports teams, even supported the 76ers before they became contenders in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
As reported on Monday by the Inquisitr, Trout has faced his share of inquiries from fans who have asked him if he’ll be signing with the Phillies. While he recently commented that he still “likes where he’s at” with the Angels, it was also reported that he chose to remain silent about his contract and whether he plans to explore other options in free agency after the 2020 season.
Adding Bryce Harper or Manny Machado could, according to PennLive’s Jones, show Phillies fans that the team is “serious” about becoming a contender in the NL East. However, he concluded his op-ed by emphasizing that it might be worth waiting two seasons for Trout while making less splashy acquisitions in the meantime to become competitive. Per Jones, this could be a better idea than chasing after “a couple of pampered divas” with a history of allegedly lackadaisical play.