We are quickly approaching February, and Spring Training is right around the corner. Entering the offseason, Yankees fans were optimistic that Brian Cashman would work his magic yet again and bring Bryce Harper or Manny Machado to the Bronx. But as we near the end of the line, there are still a handful of teams that could land one of the game’s superstars. If Harper ends up in Philadelphia or New York, he will be playing in front of some of the most passionate fans in all of sports. Citizens Bank Park and Yankee Stadium would give him the opportunity to re-discover the dominance at the plate that earned him MVP honors in 2015. On the other hand, if Machado ends up with the Chicago White Sox or San Diego Padres, he would inherit the unique task of turning a franchise around. He played the role of “really good player on a really bad team” last year and would surely know how to handle himself in a similar situation. Once thing that is clear is that the pair of 26-year-olds are in for a huge pay day in the near future. The primes of their careers are right in front of them, and the right landing spot could go a long way in determining if Harper and Machado will go down as two of the best players of our generation.
With the recent announcement of the 2019 Hall of Fame class, there was a lot made about the candidacies of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. The steroid-era stars have just three years left to get to the magic 75%, and their most recent showing in the voting suggests that they may never get there. The voting for 2022 will be highlighted by the last year of eligibility for Bonds and Clemens, and the first year of eligibility for Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, who will ring in the next era of PED users. In that same era are Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Ichiro, who will each get HOF consideration down the road. Once all those names are accounted for, we will have reached the end of an exceptional era of hitters. With the dawn of a new age, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have the rare opportunity to be extremely successful, extremely wealthy, but most importantly, extremely well-respected. By playing the game the right way, and not turning towards PEDs, they could be the next Ken Griffey Jr. or Vladimir Guerrero. I believe the pair of free agents have a responsibility to the game to be the leaders in the next generation of drug-free greatness. Twenty years from now I hope to be talking about two of the greatest players the game has ever seen, and not about how all the drug tests they failed and suspensions they served will keep them out of the Hall. I look forward to putting an end to the Bonds and Clemens conversation, and picking up some day with a conversation about the legends of Harper and Machado. The next chapter begins this spring. Are you ready?