John Middleton: Phillies May Be 'Little Bit Stupid' with Free-Agency Money

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 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

Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton said the team may be "a little bit stupid" with how much money it spends on free agents before the 2019 MLB season.

On Friday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided comments from Middleton, who jokingly added, "We just prefer not to be completely stupid."

"It's exciting to contemplate what we may be able to do this offseason," he said. "We know the free agent class this year is really, really good."

The star-studded group of free agents is headlined by longtime Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado, who played both third base and shortstop across six-plus years with the Baltimore Orioles before a July trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Harper and Machado have combined for 10 All-Star Game selections, and signing either one would represent a major boost to the Phillies' offense. The key question is seemingly whether it's possible Philly could land both of the winter's top targets.

In September, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported "multiple rival executives" believed the budding NL East contenders might do exactly that, and one reason for that line of thinking was Middleton being "eager to win after a few lean years."

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When asked by Nightengale about the potential of landing the market's two biggest names, the Phils owner laughed and sidestepped the question.

"I don't know who you're referring to," Middleton said. "But we will be spending."

The Phillies rank 19th in projected payroll for 2019 at $68.9 million, per Spotrac. By comparison, their Opening Day payroll in 2008, when they most recently won the World Series, was $98.3 million.

Between their financial flexibility, their needs at shortstop and in right field and Middleton's latest comments, the Harper and Machado hype is likely going to reach a fever pitch in Philadelphia.