A big reason why those prized free agents have yet to sign on the dotted line could be their asking price.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday that both Harper and Machado are seeking $300 million deals, and both players (or perhaps their respective agents) are waiting for the other to sign to set the market.
Rosenthal noted that clubs are also willing to wait for the market to play itself out. It's said Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf would rather other teams engage in a bidding war and then decide if his team will join in once the numbers become clearer.
Both Harper and Machado have long been expected to challenge Giancarlo Stanton's record $325 million contract—and for good reason.
Former Mets GM Jim Duquette spoke about what he heard about the New York Yankees' offer to Machado, per SNY's Scott Thompson: "What I was told here recently was the Yankees' offer—these aren't out there not necessarily in writing, but hypothetical—was somewhere in that seven-year, eight-year range for $220 million."
Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs, 34 doubles and 100 RBI in 2018, ending his contract year on a high note by hitting .300 after the All-Star break.
The 26-year-old has earned no shortage of accolades throughout his career: six All-Star selections, 2012 NL Rookie of the Year, 2015 NL MVP, 2015 NL Silver Slugger and 2018 Home Run Derby title.
Meanwhile, Machado hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs, 35 doubles, three triples and 107 RBI in 162 games between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year. After establishing himself among the best defensive third basemen in baseball with a pair of Gold Gloves, he moved over to shortstop full-time last season.
His questionable postseason antics and "Johnny Hustle" comments have seemingly hurt his value as teams are wary of signing him to a long-term deal.
Despite their impressive resumes, neither has appeared close to signing at any point so far this offseason. But with spring training right around corner, the action could soon heat up.
The White Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres are among the teams to show interest in both stars, while the San Francisco Giants reportedly joined the Harper sweepstakes this past week.
Perhaps the Phillies' acquisition of star catcher J.T. Realmuto on Thursday could lead them to be more aggressive in their self-proclaimed "stupid money" spending.
Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com cautioned, though, that the Realmuto trade does not mean a Harper or Machado signing is imminent. But as Morosi pointed out, Philadelphia made itself a more attractive destination by adding an All-Star to its roster this week.