MLB Free Agents 2018: Rumors, Predictions for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, More

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 31:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals prepares for a pitch during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on August 31, 2018 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The annual GM meetings are underway from Carlsbad, California, and the MLB offseason is now in full swing with free agency officially open.

While the GM meetings generally don't bring the hotbed of activity that we see during December's winter meetings, what they do provide is plenty of rumor mill fodder and the potential groundwork for future deals to be struck.

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at some of the notable MLB rumors that have trickled out in recent days.


Chicago White Sox Showing Interest in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

Manny Machado
Manny MachadoEzra Shaw/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies have been prominently linked to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, with an outside chance they could make a run at signing both superstars.

They're not the only team well-positioned to pursue such a strategy, though, as Jon Morosi of MLB.com wrote:

"After the Phillies, the White Sox are perhaps the best candidate to pursue both Machado and Harper—although there's no guarantee they will land either. At present, the White Sox have the second-lowest payroll commitment of any MLB team for 2019. With Jose Abreu entering his final season before free agency, the White Sox need a new face of the franchise. Chicago's affinity for Machado is well-established, as it pursued him via the trade market last offseason"

He later confirmed that the White Sox are indeed interested in both players.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

#WhiteSox interested in *both* Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, source confirms, although it’s too early to know how realistic it is for them to sign either. #WhiteSox have second lowest current 2019 payroll commitment of any @MLB team. Story: https://t.co/vSXgIqh3VL @MLBNetwork

The White Sox were still very much in the rebuilding stage this past season on their way to a 62-100 record, but there's reason for optimism going forward.

Aside from their aforementioned financial flexibility, they also have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball—a group that took the No. 4 spot in our final farm system rankings of the year back in September.

Adding Harper and/or Machado as foundational pieces alongside promising young players like Reynaldo Lopez, Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada would expedite the contention timeline while they wait on the arrival of top-tier prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Luis Robert.

The big question will be whether they can convince either player to sign on with a team that is headed in the right direction but not quite there yet.

Prediction: Harper re-signs with the Nationals, Machado signs with the Phillies


Cincinnati Reds Targeting Top-Tier Starting Pitching Help

Patrick Corbin
Patrick CorbinDenis Poroy/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds ranked 25th in the majors with a 5.02 starters' ERA this past season.

That effectively undermined a dangerous offense and an excellent bullpen, and the team finished in the NL Central cellar for a fourth straight season as a result.

It should come as no surprise then that the team is eyeing rotation help this offseason, though they're setting their sights a bit higher than some might have expected.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

#Reds showing interest in multiple starting pitchers early in free agency, sources say. Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ are among the starters they like. @MLBNetwork @MLB

With Clayton Kershaw and David Price both staying put, Corbin is the top starting pitcher on the market this winter, and a hefty payday is coming his way as a result.

The 29-year-old went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 200 innings this season, finishing third in the NL with 246 strikeouts.

In three career starts at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark—generally one of the more hitter-friendly parks in baseball—he's gone 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and an 18-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings.

A five-year, $100 million contract could wind up being his earning floor, with things climbing from there depending on how many teams get involved.

Happ, 36, could prove equally impactful for a fraction of the cost.

The left-hander just wrapped up a three-year, $36 million deal, and a similar contract with a slight raise seems reasonable given his age.

He finished the 2018 season on a high note, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 63.2 innings over 11 starts with the New York Yankees following a midseason trade.

He'd bring a veteran presence to a young pitching staff, and help eat some innings after averaging 155 per year over the past eight seasons.

Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Clay Buchholz, Jeremy Hellickson, Derek Holland and Wade Miley are among the other available starters the team could pursue.

Prediction: Corbin and Happ both sign elsewhere, the Reds re-sign Matt Harvey and sign Jeremy Hellickson


All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.