Opinion: The Philadelphia Phillies don't need Harper or Machado to have a successful offseason

Philadelphia Phillies GM Matt Klentak
Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura are both legitimate upgrades to a Phillies lineup that severely needed a rehauling this offseason. However, it appears a large contingent of Philadelphia fans - particularly on social media - are less than thrilled with the efforts of general manager Matt Klentak.

In any other offseason, adding two All-Star caliber players would be a reason for excitement, however, with the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sweepstakes still playing out, fans are reserving judgment.

In some ways, ownership directly brought this scrutiny on the organization with John Middleton himself saying the organization was "expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."

Middleton walked that comment back a bit a few days later, but from that point forward it's been all or bust in the eyes of Phillies' fans.

As of now, neither Harper or Machado have decided on where they want to spend the next decade. Both have been wined and dined by multiple teams, including the Phillies, but there's been no ink to paper.

What we do now though is that multiple reports suggest neither superstar has a sincere desire to play in Philadelphia. Harper seemingly likes the idea of Los Angeles now that the Dodgers have shed some outfield depth, and Machado has always had a soft spot for New York and playing at Yankee Stadium.

It's tough to stomach after the hoopla, but it's entirely possible neither star lands in Philadelphia come 2019. It won't be so devastating to the Phillies as an organization as they've incrementally improved with McCutchen, Segura, moving Rhys Hoskins back to first base, etc., but it will be devastating to a fan base that hung on Middleton's words of getting a bit "stupid." Going full tilt on a superstar.

Phillies team president Andy MacPhail said in October that the club would be in on plenty of players, but that he wasn't particularly keen on spending crazily on this year's free agent market because the 2019 crop is arguably just as good, highlighted by Nolan Arenado and Xander Bogaerts.

“This isn’t the last year that major league baseball is ever going to be played," MacPhail said. "So you’re not going to throw every resource you have at this year because there’s the following year as well.”

It's not a popular approach, but MacPhail's reasoning is sound. Adding Harper or Machado is a headline grabber and it would certainly drive up attendance, but is it necessarily the move that will elevate the Phillies to World Series contender?

There's still plenty of time to see how things shake out. The Phillies could still very well land Harper or Machado and even spend "stupid" money in doing so. Whatever happens though, it's tough to argue Klentak and Co. haven't already improved the club from a year ago.

If things go sour with the megastar sweepstakes - and assuming the club addresses the starting rotation and back end of the bullpen - it'll be tough to blame the organization for a lackluster offseason.

Yes, Middleton put the club in a corner with his comments, but the goal every offseason is to build a better club than the year before and - by most accounts - the Phillies are doing just that.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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