Phillies rumors: Do they prefer Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

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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)
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) /
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With the MLB Winter Meetings starting soon, the Phillies may be close to landing one of the big fish in free agency, but which one would they rather have?

The MLB Winter Meetings start next week with the two biggest free agents of the offseason, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, still unsigned. One, if not both, are expected to agree to a deal while in Las Vegas. The Phillies are very much in play for both players, but which one would they prefer if they had their choice?

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com was asked that question by a reader, and he stated that there are signs Philadelphia does indeed prefer Machado over Harper. He notes that Machado will likely be cheaper and could form a great left side of the infield with Jean Segura if they can convince him to go back to third base.

On the other hand, with a potential movement towards eliminating shifts, as discussed by Jayson Stark of the Athletic (subscription required), Harper would get more valuable. Zolecki discusses how much better Harper is when not facing the shift, so an elimination of shifting would boost Harper’s offensive numbers tremendously. This is something that would have to factor into the team’s decision-making.

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However, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports wrote that Harper is the team’s top target, conflicting with that Zolecki said. Heyman threw some cold water on that notion, stating that Harper is only “lukewarm” on Philadelphia as a city. Heyman said that players who spend lots of time in Philly love it, but visiting players aren’t enthusiastic about it.

At this point, it’s still hard to determine which player the team is looking to sign. In an ideal world, they’d like to have both given they both fill holes in the team. They have plenty of money to spend, especially with Patrick Corbin signing with the Nationals. At least landing one of them is what most fans expect the team to do.

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Machado and Harper’s final decisions should come by the end of next week, so we could soon know what jersey to buy for the holidays.

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