MLB Rumors: Bryce Harper, Manny Machado Targeted by White Sox

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2018

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) leaves the field after the Nationals ended their last home game of the season with a 9-3 rain delayed win against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado may wind up in Chicago—it just might not be with the Cubs.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Monday the White Sox are interested in the two biggest free-agent prizes of the offseason, though it's unclear if they have a "realistic" chance to land either. Morosi noted the White Sox have baseball's second-lowest payroll heading into 2019.

The White Sox have had interest in Machado previously and could be among the biggest aggressors on the open market.

Harper and Machado are unique cases because they are hitting free agency well before their 30th birthdays and have MVP-caliber talent.

Harper has not been able to match his National League MVP 2015 over the last three seasons but is a 26-year-old with elite power who has produced at least three wins above replacement in six of his seven seasons, per FanGraphs. Dreams of a $400 million contract have probably been dashed, but Harper should have little trouble clearing a salary better than $30 million annually.

Machado, 26, has produced at least six WAR in three of the last four seasons and is arguably the best shortstop in baseball. He has also been exceedingly healthy since 2014, playing at least 156 games in each of the last four seasons.

Any team that looks to sign Machado and Harper could be staring down an investment of $700 million or more over the next decade. That's not as scary as it sounds, given it's unlikely their contracts will stretch even into the players' late 30s. No one will be paying a 41-year-old Albert Pujols $30 million the way the Los Angeles Angels will in 2021.

Still, it would be a surprise if the White Sox go all-in since they're typically conservative in free agency.