Preparations for the 2019 Major League Baseball season are now well underway, with rumors of trade offers and signings starting to gain momentum after an initial period of inactivity.
The New York Yankees, currently a best-price of +700 to win the World Series, have been linked with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but reports suggest they may now look elsewhere in a bid to strengthen their roster.
With four top-two American League East finishes in the last five years, New York has been in the mix to win the division but it's to settle for second-best in recent times.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s position is bordering on desperate. The Phillies last reached the playoffs back in 2011 but fans are hopeful of a postseason push this year.
The Phillies' .494 win percentage was a big improvement on 2017 and they could climb the National League East rankings with a marquee signing.
Who Could the Yankees Sign?:
Reports claim that New York is in the market for more pitchers and former Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez is a viable option. One of the more experienced free agents on the market, we could see the Yankees push to sign the 33-year-old if a favorable deal can be struck.
Gonzalez isn’t getting any younger and last year’s season-ending ankle injury may put the Yankees off in their pursuit. But with the New York pitching unit more or less ready to go for the 2019 campaign, Gonzalez could fit nicely as the fifth option.
Yankees fans, it is time to forget about Machado and focus on Harper. Trades and transactions are common at this time of year but a player of Harper’s caliber doesn’t usually hang around for long. Remember, this is a six-time All-Star we are talking about.
Coming off the back of an impressive 2018 campaign with the bat, Harper has endeared himself to the Yankees in years gone by. He mentioned Mickey Mantle when discussing his jersey number choice and the Yankees and Harper are a match made in heaven on paper. In practice, only time will tell.
Who Could the Phillies Sign?:
Philadelphia need all of the pitching help it can get and Dallas Keuchel would certainly enhance the Phillies, now +900 to win the NLCS, in that department. Incredibly, the two-time All-Star and 2017 World Series champion is still a free agent – probably because of his high wage demands.
However, we’re now approaching February and Keuchel might have a change in heart. After all, some money is better than no money and the Phillies should make a move now in order to get their man. Signing Keuchel would certainly get the Philadelphia fans excited.
The Yankees have the prestige but Philadelphia poses a challenge and Machado may relish the chance to take the Phillies to the Major League Baseball summit. Still just 26 years old, going big on Machado in free agency would almost certainly be beneficial in the long term.
Cast your minds back to August. Philadelphia had one of the best records going into the last seven weeks of the season – and it hit the self-destruct button. With someone like Machado on the roster, that might not have happened. The Phillies have a solid team but they lack that big name.
The Yankees are primed to push the Boston Red Sox close once again at the top of the AL East. Gonzalez probably isn’t going to take New York to the World Series but Harper would certainly enhance their chances of glory. A first MLB championship since 2009 beckons if the Yankees make another big move in free agency.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia needs a superstar, and Machado could be its hero. The Phillies are on the verge of something special and fans will be excited ahead of the 2019 season. Expectations will be enhanced significantly if the Phillies can get the Machado deal over the line.