With the annual general managers meetings underway in Southern California this week, the 2018 major league offseason is in full swing. Here are three notable story lines to keep an eye on as the hot stove continues to heat up.
Farhan Zaidi to the Giants. San Francisco made the boldest front office move of the young offseason Tuesday when it hired Dodgers general manger Farhan Zaidi as its new head of baseball operations. Zaidi, who worked as an assistant general manager with the Athletics before taking the job in Los Angeles in 2014, is widely considered one of the top executives in the game after a conglomeration of small moves (e.g. Max Muncy’s minor league contract in early 2017) and big ones led to two straight National League pennants for the Dodgers. The 41-year-old is known for his command of analytics as well as his openness to embracing traditional scouting methods in order to find and cultivate talent.
Harper turns down Nationals. As agent Scott Boras told reporters at the general manager meetings earlier this week, the “Harper’s bazaar” has begun, and it started with the all-star free agent reportedly turning down a 10-year, $300 million contract from the Nationals on the final day of the regular season. As evidenced by that decision, the 26-year-old outfielder expects to entertain even bigger long-term offers on the open market, and it would be no surprise if Harper landed a deal that surpasses Giancarlo Stanton’s record 13-year, $325 million contract with the Marlins in 2014. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Phillies are the frontrunner to land Harper with an offer likely in the neighborhood of $400 million.
Machado’s long-term prospects. The other biggest free-agent name on the market, shortstop Manny Machado, is also expected to demand a mega-deal. The 26-year-old’s talent has been undeniable since he debuted for Baltimore at age 19 in 2012, and his season for both the Orioles and Dodgers this year resulted in another impressive statistical output via a 5.7 WAR, .297 average, 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. Machado’s self-admitted and well-documented issues with hustle (not his “cup of tea,” he told Ken Rosenthal during the playoffs) aren’t expected to dissuade teams from pursuing him, and early indications are the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox (second-lowest payroll commitment of any team for 2019) are leading suitors.
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