The Nats are confident that they'll sign Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper wall of balls.jpgUnlike the case with previous Scott Boras clients, I haven’t heard anyone make even a plausible suggestion that Bryce Harper would try to go back to school, play in the independent leagues, go to Japan or do anything else other than sign with the Nationals before the August 15th deadline.  Nevertheless, reporters keep asking the team how they feel about it. Here’s MASN’s Byron Kerr:

In Cleveland, I got the opportunity to speak with Nationals General
Manager Mike Rizzo regarding this year’s #1 first-year player selection,
catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper.

Mike, having worked with agent Scott Boras while signing Stephen
Strasburg last season, does that give you a leg up in the negotiations
with Bryce Harper this year?

“Each case with each individual and each representative is unique.
We are not going to put any timetables on it. We feel with Bryce like
we did with Stephen, if two parties want to make a deal, a deal will be
made. So, we are optimistic about it.”

Which is what Mark Lerner said last week. And if that’s not good enough, the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore recently spoke with Harper’s college coach who said that Harper’s own parents are firmly in the “we don’t want to hold out; we want to sign and get this over with” camp.

It’s Boras, so we can fully expect the signing to wait until the absolute last minute before the deadline, but Harper is going to sign with the Nats. Which will be more boring than seeing him abuse Northern League pitchers, but which makes total sense for everyone involved.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.