Will The Dodgers Be In On Harper And Machado?
Everyone assumes that only a few teams will in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as free agents next winter, but I think that a lot more teams will be bidding on their services in the offseason than many people think. Machado may get traded this year, but he won’t sign a long term deal and the Dodgers should not waste talent on him THIS SEASON unless the price is “crazy low.”
I think many teams will go after Harper and/or Machado. The Braves and Phillies, who both are way ahead of the curve in their rebuilding schedule are both in a position to sign both players. Think about that one for a minute! BOTH!
LUXURY TAX HELL
The Dodgers have been in luxury tax hell for several years and if they wanted to be players for either Harper or Machado… or both, they HAD to get under the luxury tax threshold. I thought they would get under it in 2017, but they had a chance to go for it all and they did. Now they are under it for the year. The Yankees also got under it. There is no way the Dodgers will exceed the Luxury Tax Threshold this year, but it resets and if they exceed it NEXT year, it’s a much smaller penalty.
The Yankees are in an excellent position as they only have $88 million under contract in 2019 and $87 million in 2020. They have a lot of expiring contracts and free agent or Arbitration Eligible Players so they will have to still spend a lot. The Dodgers have $130 million under contract in 2019, but it drops to $87 million in 2020. A lot of this depends upon if Clayton Kershaw opts out of his deal. If he does, the Dodgers have $95 million in contracts for 2019. Personally, I do not think he will opt out. The only other team he might have considered was Texas and they are near Full Rebuild Time.
Clayton is from Dallas and so I doubt he would consider that other Texas team – Houston. Texans from Dallas are not enamored with Houston. What I think is more likely is that the Dodgers extend Clayton now that he has an “injury history.” It might be at a lower yearly number than what he is currently making… Lets say $125 million over 5 years for his declining years – he has to know his best years are not ahead of him… even though he can be very effective. I think Walter wants to keep him a lifelong Dodger.
Of course, people are going to say “FAZ will not give out big contracts to players like Machado and Harper, because that is not their M.O.” This is very different from what they have dealt with in the past:
- Machado and Harper are in their mid-20’s, not their decline years. This is new territory for FAZ.
- FAZ no longer has bad contracts like Crawfish and Gonzalez hanging around their necks. Their worse contract is currently Rich Hill, but that can change.
- The Luxury Tax is now reset! That’s a biggie.
- The farm is ready to deliver some young players over the next years.
Now, whether FAZ signs either player depend upon what they are actually offered. I don’t see a team offering either one more than $300 million, but it is possible a team could roll the dice and do that. I could see Atlanta and Philly with all of their youngsters doing just that. I would not be surprised to see one of them sign BOTH free agents. Either team would become a World Series favorite.
Will The Dodgers Be In On Harper And Machado?
I know this: If a team signed BOTH players, they could have an incredible 5 or 6 year run! As baseball fans we dream about “what if.” What if, the Dodgers signed both Harper and Machado? Do you think the team could win with this lineup?
- Turner 2B
- Machado SS
- Harper RF
- Bellinger 1B
- Seager 3B
- Kemp LF
- Taylor CF
- Barnes C
I GUARANTEE FAZ will be “in” on both players. AC has suggested DJ LeMahieu at 2B and he could be a nice piece as well. Whether FAZ signs any of those players remains to be seen, but this is not an aging Greinke, Price or Cueto. It’s a new paradigm and we have no roadmap how FAZ will navigate it. Part of the reason they got under the salary cap was to be in a position to be able to bid on those players.
Other Stuff to Consider
- Would the Dodgers actually trade Matt Kemp NOW if a team wanted him? Think about that one… He is having a good year and may have another one left.
- Erik Goeddel is worthy of a spot in the pen. He has the stuff – if can he harness his control. He’s 29 and it’s now or never – maybe they see something they can “fix.” Teams always think that, The Cubs thought they could Fix Jason Heyward (they couldn’t) but the Astros thought they could fix Charlie Morton… and did.
- As bad as the Dodgers have played, they are just 8.5 games out of first. That’s really not much. They do need to get Kershaw back if they realistically expect to gain ground soon. I fear Ryu could be done for the year.
- How big of a bounty would it take to get Michael Fulmer from the Tigers? How about Verdugo, Smith and White?
- By the way, I heard from DC yesterday – he’s doing fine – busy with his garden and family stuff. He assured me he will be back soon.
- I’m hoping AC or DC writes a piece about Conner Joe (so I don’t have to do it). He’s a player to really watch – it’s all coming together for him!
- As Ernie Banks said: “Let’s play two.” I say: “Let’s win too.”