White Sox pursuit of top free agents could be in jeopardy as reports suggest friends of one available player state he’s interested in one particular team.
The White Sox were always going to be longshots to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The franchise doesn’t have the prestige of the New York Yankees or the relevancy of the Los Angeles Dodgers let alone being relevant in their home city of Chicago.
On Friday, it was revealed by Jim Bowden of The Athletic that Machado was telling his friends that he preferred to go to the Yankees and would do so if their offer was close. Machado visited with the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees this past week as each team has shown interest in signing the superstar free agent.
The Sox are coming off a 100-loss season in 2018. It will take a lot of convincing on their part to attract Machado to a rebuild that is close to finding success but is still a year or two away from the team contending. If Machado does indeed prefer to play for the Yankees, the Sox will likely have to overpay for his services.
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Jon Heyman of Fancred tweeted on Friday that Machado has informed the Sox, Phillies, and Yankees that his decision on which team he will sign with will come after the new year. With Machado reportedly telling his friends he prefers the Yankees, should the Sox focus on other players that can fill their void at third base?
The Sox would certainly receive a boost with the addition of Machado, but if recent reports are to be believed, there may not be much the franchise can do to sign him. Although the Sox have a lot of payroll flexibility to add Machado for 2019 and beyond, his reported preference to sign with the Yankees could take the south side team out of the running to add the talented free agent.
The Dodgers need a lot of things to go right in order to have a chance at signing Harper and not exceeding the luxury tax. On Friday, the Dodgers moved closer to gaining payroll flexibility with a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers traded Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood to the Reds in exchange for Homer Bailey, and two prospects in Jeter Downs and Kyle Farmer.
While the Dodgers are expected to release Bailey, they freed up about $17 million from their luxury tax payroll for 2019. This flexibility in their payroll will allow them to pursue other free agents according to Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN. Those targets include Harper and A.J. Pollock according to Gonzalez.
With the Sox interested in Harper, the recent trade made by the Dodgers could take them out of the running for another free agent superstar. The Sox were always going to face an uphill battle in attempting to sign a top free agent to a rebuilding team this offseason.
Sox fans shouldn’t be upset if the franchise can’t sign Harper or Machado. Despite their payroll flexibility, signing with a team as a free agent is always up to the player. If the Sox miss out on both Harper and Machado, there are other players available they can target before the start of Spring Training.