The White Sox are in the next phase of their rebuild and that means it’s time to spend money. Kind of perfect timing for them, as two of the best players in the game are free agents this offseason and are only 26-years-old. That’s as rare of an occurrence that you’ll see in MLB.
By all accounts the White Sox are aggressively pursuing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Team representatives have already met with Harper in person, while owner Jerry Reinsdorf has had a few phone conversations with Harper’s agent Scott Boras. And the White Sox are one of at least six teams who will reportedly make a pitch to Machado next week.
So far this offseason the White Sox have addressed some of their needs, trading for a good reliever in Alex Colome, acquiring starter Ivan Nova and signing backup catcher James McCann. On Friday, they made another deal, trading for Yonder Alonso from Cleveland.
Alonso just happens to be Machado’s brother in law.
So, is the big move that White Sox fans have been led to believe has a real chance of happening actually going to come true?
White Sox fans can’t claim that the national media isn’t giving them a great shot to sign Harper, who at the moment appears to be the team’s number one free agent target. Jon Heyman has predicted the White Sox signing the outfielder, while Jim Bowden viewed them as favorites earlier this week and basically every other national reporter has said there is a real pursuit from the White Sox to sign Harper.
However, during the last week or so there have been hints that maybe the White Sox won’t be as aggressive as they need to be to close the deal for Harper.
There’s this from Bob Nightengale.
The Chicago #WhiteSox have meetings with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado but don’t view themselves as the favorites
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 12, 2018
Nightengale also dropped this in his article.
The Chicago White Sox aren’t convinced that they are the only Chicago team interested in Bryce Harper. (Via @BNightengale)
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) December 13, 2018
All right, fine, so you don’t take Nightengale seriously as most MLB fans don’t either. But then, there was also this from Ken Rosenthal.
Via The Athletic.
Reinsdorf privately has expressed doubt his team will actually win the bidding for Harper or Machado, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking.
Rosenthal expresses some doubt, but he doesn’t rule out the White Sox either for Harper, explaining that the team is in a perfect position to make a move and they should have the resources to do it.
But the whispers and hints being leaked to the media aren’t stopping and who knows maybe it’s just a ploy by the White Sox to make other suitors for Harper not offer a monster deal if they view the White Sox as a non-threat. Why out-bid yourself if there’s no real competition? And then if you’re White Sox you make your move.
However, the latest report from ESPN’s Buster Olney is certainly a kick to the balls for White Sox fans, who at this point are all-in on the Harper and Machado hype.
Buster's Buzz: White Sox have their limits on Machado, Harper https://t.co/HR8GEdBFsq
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 15, 2018
According to that report from Olney, the White Sox won’t be making any record-breaking offers for Harper or Machado.
— Write Sox (@WriteSox) December 15, 2018
Speaking as a Cubs fan, I’ve already trashed Olney this offseason for his ridiculous report about the Cubs looking to trade Kris Bryant. That was after Theo Epstein said the Cubs didn’t have any untouchables, but also said it would be impossible to make a deal involving any of their star players that makes sense for the team’s future success.
Epstein quickly shot that report down a few times and so did Boras, who is also Bryant’s agent.
So yeah, if you want to choose and not believe Olney, that’s completely fine. Truth of the matter is that there are so many things being reported that you don’t know the real motivation behind the sources. Why is certain information being reported? We don’t know yet.
However, would any White Sox fan really be surprised if Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t end up signing off on Rick Hahn negotiating the biggest MLB contract ever? Just look at his track record not only with the White Sox, but with the Bulls as well.
For the sake of White Sox fans psyche, hope the White Sox do make a serious attempt to sign Harper. If not, the pitch forks should be out once again pointed at ownership.