Phillies closing in on Bryce Harper?
General manager Matt Klentak and the Phillies find themselves in a tight spot now that Manny Machado is off the free agent market. The organization flaunted the idea of landing one of the big two, and now only Bryce Harper remains available.

And Harper is going to cost a lot. A whole lot.

Machado on Tuesday agreed to a 10-year deal worth $300 million with the San Diego Padres. When asked about the agreement, Klentak said the cost was higher than what the organization wanted to pay.

“There’s a certain value that we believe a player brings and we were willing to be aggressive,” Klentak told reporters down in Clearwater, Fla. after hearing of the deal. “If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away."

It's Negotiation 101. You have to have a number and be willing to walk away from the table at some point. You can argue or debate why Klentak felt the need to publicly make note of the organization's stance on the Machado negotiations, but if you view things objectively it should be easy to understand his logic.

Now, given the hoopla over the past two months regarding the Phillies and their connections to Machado and Harper, the organization is wrestling with the reality now that the club may enter the regular season without either of the top free agent names in baseball.

Fans, particularly on Twitter, are ready to riot outside Citizens Bank Park.

Klentak, however, put on a poker face on Tuesday and rebuffed the idea the Phillies will overpay for Harper just to save face.

“We have to remember that there will be other free agents that make sense for this franchise," Klentak told reporters. "There will be plenty of opportunities to spend money and to make our team better. We cannot allow ourselves to be put in a position where we have to do something at all costs. There’s a significant cost that we’re willing to pay to add, but we have to be willing to walk away at some point.”

Entering the offseason, it was widely believed that the $300 million mark was the minimum it would take to sign either player. Klentak saying the Machado contract was above the organization's valuation is intriguing, especially knowing the Phillies had an opportunity to match the Padres offer and elected to pass.

When asked if the organization would go north of $300 million on Harper, Klentak declined to offer a substantive answer.

“I won’t comment on that,” he said. “I’ll say this, every player is different. They bring different strengths, weaknesses, risks, rewards, etc."

Klentak is right saying every player is different. Harper brings exponentially more value to a franchise off the field because of his appeal as the potential face of an organization. People will plunk down their own hard earned cash to watch him play. Machado doesn't carry that same appeal.

When Klentak is talking about how players are different, you have to think gravitas is part of the equation. Now, you just need to put a value on it and continue to negotiate.

We know this - it'll take somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-years and $340 million guaranteed as the baseline to get a deal hammered out.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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