Manny Machado's ten-year contract with the San Diego Padres, as reported Tuesday, is the first free agent contract in baseball history to exceed $300 million.
Bryce Harper, the other major superstar free agent, hasn't signed a new contract yet. When he does, it will likely be for more money than Machado got. But might Harper get as much as $400 million?
ESPN reporter Buster Olney, during the Baseball Tonight podcast on Wednesday, predicted that Harper's total haul could reach that figure.
"It would not shock me if... Bryce's deal, when it's first leaked out by one of [agent Scott Boras'] guys in the media, it's gonna have the number 4 in it," Olney said, meaning that the contract would exceed $400 million.
These comments appeared to be a shot at certain other leading baseball reporters who are reputed to be frequent recipients of leaks from Bryce's powerful agent. Deadspin asked in 2012 whether one such reporter, Jon Heyman, is a "shill" for Boras.
Both Olney and his guest, Bleacher Report's Scott Miller, predicted that Boras is looking to find an "emotional" owner to pay a premium for Harper -- and therefore win the bidding war. And both believe that the Philadelphia Phillies are the most likely team to sign Harper.
Olney also said that if Harper signs with the Phillies, this may be because owner John Middleton will have "grabbed the wheel" from the team's analytics-minded front office -- and authorized an offer for more money than the front office would like to put on the table.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday -- after the announcement of the Machado deal, per CBS Sports -- that the team's valuation of Machado was less than the $300 million that the Padres agreed to pay.Middleton, the Phillies' owner, said in the offseason that he was willing to spend "stupid money" on players. This remark comes at a time when most Major League Baseball teams have pulled back from spending on free agency this offseason. Harper, while playing for the Phillies' NL East rival the Washington Nationals, has always played very well in games hosted at Citizens Bank Park. According to a Twitter post by ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides, Harper's career slugging percentage of.564 in games played at that ballpark is the highest of any player in Citizens Bank Park history.
Columnist Bob Nightengale also said on Twitter on Wednesday that the Chicago White Sox are "out" on Harper, while reporter Andy Martino posted a Twitter message claiming that the San Francisco Giants are still in on the player.