Harper Watch 2019
Update: nothing happened Tuesday. It was a monolithic nothing burger.
But today is a new day, and Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak went on the 97.5 the Fanatic morning show with Marc Farzetta and Tra Thomas to talk about a wide variety of topics, including the only thing that people really care about, which is Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
The appearance started with a half-joking, half-maybe-not-joking line from Thomas: “What’s taking so long?”
I think what’s interesting about it though is, especially now, there’s been a flurry of guys signing. Obviously there are a couple of top guys that are still out there as we all know, but I think there’s a free agent market that’s kind of steadily coming along and we have to kind of look back to last year a little bit. Remember, Jake Arrieta, we didn’t sign Arrieta until the middle of March. J.D. Martinez signed in spring training and Eric Hosmer signed in spring training. I don’t know if this is the new normal or what, but it’s not unprecedented that some of the top free agents are waiting a little longer than they might have 5-10 years ago.”
More notes from Klentak:
- The Phillies were “pretty open and public” about their meetings with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Both were “good meetings” that allowed them to ask questions and let the players learn about the organization, now there’s “ongoing dialogue” with their representation.
- He believes the Phillies jumped out quickly in the offseason with the Seattle trade setting the stage and allowing them to play the market.
- On landing one of Machado or Harper: “I don’t know if I know the answer to that. Really, we only know half the equation, which is the conversations we’re having. I don’t know what’s happening with (other teams). I can tell you that we feel like we put a really strong foot forward, with our presentations to these guys and the way we welcomed them to Philly or told them about the franchise. I feel really good about that, the pitches that we made… a lot of this will come down to dollars and cents, we know that, but I feel good about the pitches we made to both guys.”
- He didn’t want to disclose if offers have been made to Machado or Harper. “It really doesn’t benefit us, so I have to keep that under wraps.”
- Klentak is happy with the offseason so far, feels like the offense and defense have improved and that the team is better prepared to face left-handed hitters. Talked about the Jean Segura signing, moving Rhys Hoskins back to first base, and bringing in Andrew McCutchen to play left field.
- He says everybody heard the “stupid money” comment, but he thinks that’s a good thing, mentions that the Phillies had no trouble getting meetings with free agents. “I don’t know that that (comment) added any pressure.”
- He would be open to re-aligning the calendar in the next CBA to trim the free agency window so that it doesn’t drag into spring training, but he also pointed out that baseball doesn’t have a salary cap while basketball and other sports do. “It’s hard for a player to sit here on the eve of February not knowing where they’re going to spring training…. I think there’s a human element to the pace of the offseason that presents a challenge. I don’t know if it’s as much of an economic challenge.”
- On the possibility of signing both Machado and Harper: “Is it impossible? No. I think it’s very unlikely. I’ve kind of said that on the record or off the record most of the offseason. It’s not about wanting a player or not wanting a player. It is about managing payrolls and the franchise to have opportunities to improve the club in future years… I just don’t know if that’s the prudent course of action for us. It’s not because we’re cheap or we don’t like the players, it’s about the dynamics of roster building…”
Klentak also had some things to say about Gabe Kapler and Jimmy Rollins towards the back-end of the interview. Full audio after the jump:
— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) January 30, 2019