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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a week now for Phillies pitchers and catchers to report to Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, on Feb. 13. And still, there’s no word on where prized free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will make their new homes.
The Phillies face a bit of a quandary with this, since they were among the favorites to land one of the two, if not both.
Adding to that is what Phillies owner John Middleton told USA Today Sports back in November: “We’re going into this (offseason) expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.”
Hence, the popular idiom “stupid money” being thrown around Philadelphia the last two months.
What happens if the Phillies don’t get either?
It is a team that improved 14 games from the previous season, when the Phillies broke a three-year string of 90-plus losses by going 80-82 last year under first-year manager Gabe Kapler.
As recent as a few weeks ago, it was supposed to be a foregone conclusion that Harper was heading to the Phillies. It didn’t happen. Now, the Atlanta Braves, the defending National League East champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres are all reportedly interested in Harper.
Machado, some report, is headed to the Yankees. Others report the Phillies are still the primary team.
If the Phillies don’t get either, they’ll still be in contention for the National League East title. With Machado or Harper, their chances are obviously better.
But the Phillies kind of have to sign one or the other—or even both, which is a reach, after Middleton went out and made the “stupid money” proclamation, don’t they?
If not, this offseason will be marked a major disappointment to Phillies’ fans. This team needs a jolt. It needs to fill seats. It needs one. Or the other. Or both.
Anything less is a failure—and a silent nod to their loyal fanbase that the Phillies may be playoff contenders and nothing more.