Major League baseball is in the midst of a very slow and worrisome offseason, and there is only one team to blame, the Phillies.
Do you remember the beginning of last July? July 1 marked not just the Phillies being in second place for the division, but the beginning of NBA Free Agency, open season for a very good class. Then at midnight Paul George, a top 10 NBA player, agreed to an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder at a party, within minutes of free agency.
Players like Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins agreed to a deal within two days. LeBron James, the most talented player in NBA history, agreed to three year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 2.
In what is usually a quiet offseason, NFL quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum had deals arranged before free agency even started, and Cousin’s deal set an NFL record.
So now as Major League Baseball competes with the NFL and NBA, their offseasons have failed to help.
Let’s continue to stroll down memory lane. Remember those reports last October from “rival executives” that the 2018-19 MLB offseason could run through Philadelphia, as the Phillies had the financial flexibility to sign both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper?
At times it seemed more likely both landed in the City of Brotherly Love, then neither doing so. Everyone knew this was the offseason Phillies executives had highlighted in previous years. Then owner John Middleton came out boasting over the Phillies plans to spend “stupid money.” It all seemed like the perfect storm.
Yet the team that was supposed to run the offseason, has run it into the ground.
We are days away from pitchers and catchers reporting and what was supposed to be the two most appealing free agents in MLB history are still unsigned. It’s not just Machado and Harper. The best closer in baseball, Craig Kimbrel, and 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel are still available to the open market.
It is becoming dangerously close to another scenario to where certain players are not ready for the beginning of the MLB season.
With all the reports on baseball testing out new rules to speed up the game, maybe they should worry about pace of pay over pace of play.
As Harper and Machado wait each other out to set the market for their deals the Phillies, one of the few teams with the kind of money to make a mega deal, sit on their hands, attempting to save every dollar they can as opposed to just signing a generational talent.
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As the Phillies play the waiting game, other clubs are seeing that perhaps if the price range drops enough perhaps they can pop in at the last minute and lock up one of the two. Teams like the Padres and Giants are starting to show their interest in Harper, who the Phillies appeared to love in a meeting that feels like it occurred years ago.
Of course it would not have been wise to offer Harper $500 million dollars in mid-November to try and lock him but as we approach Spring Training Klentak and Middleton seem stubborn as they have yet to work out a deal with Harper and Boras. They are treading in dangerous waters that a potential suitor could come in at the last second and steal Harper. As a Phillies fan it would most definitely be the result we would want, but it might be the one the front office needs to realize: if you want to improve the team, just get it done.
Now the Phillies have been active in the trade market. Acquiring Jean Segura and J.T Realmuto as instant upgrades to J.P Crawford and Jorge Alfaro. The win now mentality established by the Phillies front office once again raises the question as to why the Phillies haven’t been more aggressive in the free agency market.
Decline, tragedy, and stubbornness have destroyed what was supposed to be the best free agent class in MLB history. It now seems very realistic that both Harper and Machado could enter March unsigned, which would be a disaster for a company that is already insecure about being too slow.
A message to all fans complaining about this dull offseason, we have no one to blame but ourselves.