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‘Mystery team’ involved in Manny Machado free agency sweepstakes

Manny Machado, MLB Rumors

For much of this offseason, talks have centered around marquee free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The free agent process for both players has been slow to this point, but it looks like the market for Machado may finally be heating up, and may even involve a mystery team.

According to Jon Heyman of FanCred, a mystery team may be in negotiations with Machado, joining the two previous favorites in the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox.

Machado, only 26, would make sense for plenty of teams around the league. However, considering his exorbitant asking price that could push north of $300 million, it is very difficult to pin down the identity of this mystery club. The New York Yankees, long connected to Machado, have filled their infield vacancies by signing Troy Tulowitzki and D.J. LeMahieu, while other big spenders like the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are already stacked on the infield.

A team like the Milwaukee Brewers, connected to Machado at last year’s trade deadline, could make sense, as could the St. Louis Cardinals. However, neither club has shown any willingness in the past to make such a large free agent commitment. Historically aggressive teams like the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels are likely nearing budget restraints at this point in the offseason, as each team has made significant winter additions of their own.

Machado’s market has yet to develop as he likely hoped it would, with teams becoming more and more cautious towards big-ticket free agents. The right-handed hitter slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 14 stolen bases between the Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles in 2018, good for a 141 wRC+ and 6.2 fWAR.

This mystery team’s involvement certainly makes the competition for Machado between the Phillies and White Sox that much more interesting. Regardless, he is very likely to sign within the coming weeks, as Spring Training begins in little more than a month.