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When will Bryce Harper, Manny Machado sign?

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Manny Machado will meet with the Phillies’ brass in Philadelphia next week. George King of the New York Post, meanwhile, says that he may very well meet with the Yankees next week as well, in what is apparently an east coast tour. Beyond those two teams, the White Sox have expressed an interest in Machado and are expected to meet with him as well.

The other big star free agent is Bryce Harper, or course. He reportedly held court in a hotel suite a bit father north up the Las Vegas Strip from the Winter Meetings with his agent, taking meetings with officials from various teams. Proof, I guess, that meetings are not an immediate precursor to a signing.

At this point one wonders if the top two talents on the market will sign before Christmas. If they don’t, it’ll be fairly unusual. Not unheard-of, of course. Last year’s infamously slow free agent market meant that its top two players — Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez — waited until February to ink deals. One other in recent years — Max Scherzer — did not sign until January.

For the most part, however, we’re at about the time the big free agents sign. See, for example, the signing dates of the top two free agents, per MLB Trade Rumors’ ratings, over the past six offseasons:

December 15 is a popular date! Last year that was on the Friday after the Winter Meetings, in fact, which is . . . today!

Any chance you wanna cancel those meetings for next week and cut to the chase, Manny?

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.