As teams that will not make the playoffs start planning their winter vacations, at least two players are likely to start planning their financial futures as they prepare for what could be the largest contract in MLB history.

Those two players are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

As they both head into free agency, they will no doubt both end up with a contract worth more than $200 million, but one, or both, may see numbers approaching $300 million.

After previously reporting on who is making the best case for the best contract as the season winds down (you can read that article here: https://bit.ly/2D5t0mC ), it’s time to take a look at where each player might end up.

No matter where Machado goes, teams are going to need to make other moves to make room for his presumably hefty annual salary.

It must be said up front that the Yankees should never be left out of any conversation.  As they have always shown, they will be the team that will find a way to get all the big names.  However, being on the hook for the remainder of Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year $325 million dollar deal, combined with a goal to stay under the luxury tax makes it tough in this race.

The St. Louis Cardinals are keeping things competitive this year in the National League Central, and third baseman Matt Carpenter is having an MVP level season, but adding Machado brings a big name and added talent on offense and defense.  The Cardinals could move Carpenter to second base, a position that has been the weakest this season (other than the pitchers) for the Cardinals with a batting average of just .243 with only 13 homers.  Compare that to Carpenter’s stats of .268 with 35 homers and Machado makes the Cardinals an improved team.

The Dodgers are obviously another team in the mix for Machado, but the best selling point for them is if they can somehow make it into the playoffs.

After a weekend power surge by Yasiel Puig (five homers in two games), they are inching themselves closer.  Even though Machado has not performed as well with the Dodgers in the second half (.270 average with 11 homers and 30 RBIs) as he did with the Orioles in the first half (.315 average, 24 homers, and 65 RBIs), he remains a threat on offense where Matt Kemp is having a comeback season that may or may not be a fluke, and Max Muncy is having an out-of-nowhere season.  The biggest obstacle the Dodgers face is where to move players when/if Corey Seager comes back and plays at the high level he had been playing in his early career.  If the Dodgers believe that, they can save the money on Machado (Seager is on a rookie deal and makes “only” $575,000), and fill any other needs they might have if they fall short of the playoffs this year.  A lot of “ifs” here.

The Braves are a team on the rise, with a young core and healthy starting pitching.

But their shortstop position is hitting an anemic .227 with just 15 homers.  If you add Machado, who will turn 27 during next season, to a lineup that includes Ozzie Albies (21-years-old) and Ronald Acuna (turns 21 in December) and you have a potent young lineup for years to come.  It also makes Dansby Swanson, Rio Ruiz, and Johan Camargo (all 24-years-old and having decent, but not spectacular seasons at third base and shortstop) trade bait to acquire other pieces the Braves might need.  Plus, the Braves can afford Machado because many of their young stars are on their rookie, team-friendly deals for several more years.

As always, there could be a surprise team that makes a bid, but with this type of money, there will not be many.

Now that we’ve handled Machado, Let’s talk about a possible landing spot for Bryce Harper.

That’s next time!

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