Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in one week — one week! — and still Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned. Two prime-aged superstars are sitting in free agency because, at the all moment, not one of the 30 MLB clubs believe they are worth their asking price. It is beyond silly given how much money is in the game today, but it is what it is.
Harper and Machado are true balance of power players. They can swing a division race or a wild-card race all by themselves. They are that good. Steamer projects Machado as a 5.1 WAR player in 2019 and Harper a 4.9 WAR player. Projections are not predictions, they are an estimate of true talent level, and Steamer sees both as five-win players. That’s big impact.
Which teams could most use a five-win player at this point? Well, all of them, but some clubs are closer to contention than others. A rebuilding team may not benefit much from Harper or Machado in 2019, but they are so young (both 26) that they could be part of a contending roster in 2020 or 2021. It’s not often players like this hit free agency. Sign ’em while you can. More by Mike Axisa