The uncommonly slow free agent market in Major League Baseball has mostly focused on superstars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but they are far from the only accomplished players who remain unsigned even after the start of spring training.
A new report from reporter Jon Heyman states that while the Philadelphia Phillies remain focused on Bryce Harper, they’re also eying a couple of other free agents- starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel.
“Phillies’ total focus right now is on bryce harper,” Heyman wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.
“After harper signs (either with them or elsewhere), philly will consider dallas keuchel and/or craig kimbrel. one person thought keuchel’s more likely since the pen is solid with robertson is aboard, but it could be either guy.”
While Bryce Harper, in his career with the Nationals, has never won a playoff series, the two pitchers have had more postseason success. Keuchel has pitched for the last several years for the Houston Astros, winning the World Series with them in 2017. Kimbrel was the closer for the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox team, last fall.
In MLB.com’s rankings of the top free agents of the offseason, published in October, Harper was ranked second, behind Machado, with Kimbrel listed fifth and Keuchel sixth.
The Phillies did make a couple of signings on Wednesday, although none of them were the top-tier free agents. The Phillies, NBC Sports Philadelphia reported, are set to sign Yhoswar Garcia, a top amateur outfielder out of Venezuela when the international signing period begins in July. The 16-year-old Garcia will reportedly receive a $2.5 million signing bonus. He’s described as “an excellent athlete with speed, a strong throwing arm and a promising bat,” although at his young age Garcia is likely many years away from reaching the majors for Philadelphia.
— Lefty (@SportWire) February 21, 2019
Philadelphia also reached a minor-league deal with 32-year-old veteran infielder Trevor Plouffe, also per Heyman on Twitter. A player who was with the Minnesota Twins for much of his career, Plouffe was in the Phillies’ organization for the 2018 season, playing briefly in the major leagues at the end of the year.
While most observers expect Bryce Harper to receive a contract somewhere north of the record $300 million over 10 years that Machado got this week, ESPN‘s Buster Olney said on a podcast Wednesday, per the Inquisitr, that he wouldn’t be surprised if Harper’s deal crossed the $400-million threshold.