Note: Tonight’s the night for the Sox Machine holiday meetup with Section 108 at Lo Rez Brewing at 2101 S. Carpenter St. in Pilsen. It starts at 6 p.m., and remember to bring your previously loved or barely tolerated White Sox wares to regift in a White (Sox) Elephant exchange. I hope to see you there. (I also hope to see me there, which I will barring hideous delays at Midway.)
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Since baseball’s courtship of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper has taken on the respectful distance and pacing of Victorian times, it’s given White Sox fans plenty of time to debate which player they’d rather acquire. As far as I’m concerned, BeefLoaf said it best:
Over at The Athletic, Eno Sarris framed the question in terms of which player would age better. He examined a number of metrics that have varying sensitivity to aging, grouped into four areas:
- Plate discipline
- Coaching (ability to get extra value)
So, when it comes to plate discipline and athleticism, maybe Harper has an edge. When it comes to defense and possible adjustment-based upside, it looks like Machado has an edge. How you value each of these things now matters. Personally, if I was choosing between the two, I’d take Harper’s two birds in hand over the idea that I could unlock more from Machado defensively and offensively in the future. We’re trying to figure out the future either way, but I prefer disciplined hitters and history does as well.
As far as the White Sox are concerned, though, BeefLoaf is still right.
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Unlike his visits with the White Sox and Yankees, Machado’s visit with the Phillies included a little bit of media and fan availability, albeit unscheduled and involuntary. Machado’s quotes weren’t enlightening, but Philly’s pitch had this going for it:
With Machado’s tour seemingly complete, attempting to read tea leaves, while fun, is nothing more than guessing. For instance, Joel Sherman of the New York Post has his read on the situation, saying if the Yankees were willing to truly flex their financial might, Machado would’ve signed by now.
But the sense is the Yankees are a split camp in how much to offer Machado, and if they even should go down this path at all or save for when an area of greater need arises. The Phillies, for near certainty, and possibly even the White Sox are poised to outbid the Yanks.
Perhaps the most fascinating individual subplot in this three-horse race is unfurling at Citizens Bank Park, where both Sherman and Ken Rosenthal have wondered whether Phillies principal owner John Middleton’s mouth wrote a check his front office can’t or won’t cash.
If you missed it, Middleton told Bob Nightengale that he expected to spend money this winter, “and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.”
The Phillies have met the first part of Middleton’s mandate, signing Andrew McCutchen and trading for Jean Segura. But “a little bit stupid” meant going all-out for Machado and Harper, and apparently they’ve been measured enough in their words and action since to invite doubt.
The Phillies can hem and haw about all of the other ways they can improve, but they were pointing toward this moment long before Middleton’s comments, preparing to finish off their rebuilding effort by unleashing their financial might on a deep free-agent class. Whether it was Harper or Machado, Machado or Harper, virtually the entire industry – not to mention the entire city of Philadelphia – assumed the Phils were ready to go big. […]
I can hear the Phillies’ brass already if they blow it with Machado and Harper, calling for patience, whispering about the possibility of signing third baseman Nolan Arenado in free agency next offseason or south Jersey native Mike Trout the offseason after that. Well, Arenado and Trout would be older than 26 if they hit the open market – a significant if, considering both might sign extensions. And if the Phillies cannot close on Machado or Harper, why should anyone expect them to close on any big free agent in the future?
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Free agent news:
*The Rockies signed Daniel Murphy for two years and $24 million. Murphy is expected to play first base, so you can probably cross Colorado off the list of teams that might be interested in Jose Abreu, although that requires the assumption that the White Sox have an interest in moving Abreu.
*Joakim Soria signed with the Oakland Athletics for two years and $15 million.
*Anibal Sanchez signed a two-year, $19 million deal with the Washington Natonals.
*Andrew Miller is nearing an agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals.
*Clayton Richard was designated for assignment by the Padres, who will be on the hook for his $3 million salary unless they find a taker. Richard’s value is working quickly and taking lumps for bad teams, but he fits if the White Sox are truly interested in acquiring former draft picks and slowing down the running game.