Rumor: Philly 'Expected to Go Hard' at Bryce Harper, Manny Machado in Offseason

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 10:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals and Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles talk during their game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 10, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly likely to be major players in the free-agent market during the upcoming offseason.

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Phillies are "expected to go hard" after Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado once they hit the open market.

Heyman noted that while Harper is unlikely to be traded prior to Tuesday's non-waiver deadline, the Phillies are viewed as a team that should consider making a run at him due to their reported interest in signing him during the offseason.

Per ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, the Nats are exploring Harper's trade value since they trail the Phils by 5.5 games in the NL East.

Machado was already moved, as the Baltimore Orioles dealt him to the Dodgers on July 18 for a package of five prospects.

The 25-year-old Harper has had an up-and-down year, as he is hitting just .220 but has 25 home runs and 62 RBI.

He was named an All-Star for the sixth time this season, and he won the National League MVP Award in 2015 when he slammed a career-high 42 homers.

Machado, 26, is in the midst of his best MLB season.

The four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner is hitting .314 with 26 home runs and 70 RBI split between the O's and Dodgers.

Harper and Machado are set to become two of the most highly sought free agents in recent memory provided they don't re-sign prior to the offseason.

The Phillies are ahead of schedule in their rebuild, as they own a 58-48 record, which is good for a half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Due to the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks' strong records, the Phils are just percentage points ahead when it comes to a wild-card spot, however.

Trading for Harper would be a significant risk since he could leave during free agency for nothing, but it is also a move that could make the Phillies true World Series contenders this offseason.

If they opt against making a deal for Harper, the Phillies can still accelerate their rebuild even more and potentially become an elite team should they land Harper and/or Machado prior to the 2019 campaign.