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Latest on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

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As the hot stove barely takes the chill off of this frigid offseason, let’s check in on the two blue chip free agents who remain unemployed:

  • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies are expected to make another offer to Manny Machado this week. We do not know what the previous offer was and, while one presumes that Machado countered or another team also made Machado an offer because only morons bid against themselves, we don’t know the terms of that stuff either. It all remains a mystery, but as Salisbury reports, the Phillies seem more jazzed for Machado than Harper;
  • The White Sox have reportedly made an offer to Machado. The Yankees too, though as Ken Davidoff writes today, it’s thought to be something of a lowball deal, at least in terms of contract length. Davidoff mentions five-years, $130 million, but it’s not clear if he’s just speculating or if that’s what someone has told him. Either way, it sounds like New York’s interest is good on the average annual value but poor on the length and guaranteed dollars;
  • Even if they are more jazzed about Machado, the Phillies have a meeting with Bryce Harper scheduled for this Saturday in Las Vegas. Unlike the Winter Meetings confab between Scott Boras and Philly GM Matt Klentak, this is an all-hands-on-deck thing, with the Phillies owner, team president Andy MacPhail, Klentak, Gabe Kapler and, most importantly, Bryce Harper himself. Know what? If I was interested in Harper, I’d probably let it slip to the media that I was more jazzed about Machado too for negotiation purposes. Just throwing that out there!

Given that there’s a Saturday meeting, it seems obvious that Harper won’t sign anywhere this week. No one knows with Machado, but given that there are offers out there, it could happen whenever.

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to have these third-degree hot stove burns treated. Just scorching stuff. Wear oven mitts, kids.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]