Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? The debate on who the Philadelphia Phillies should sign to a record-breaking contract this offseason continues, and will continue until they each sign with a club. Some argue the Phillies should ink both because they should and have the money, while others are wary to do so for various reasons — such as too much salary committed to two players on a 25-man roster, or Machado's recent controversy regarding lack of hustle.
There may not be a right answer on who the Phillies should pursue, and if there is, we will not know until hindsight comes into play. For former Phillies World Series champion closer and MLB Network Radio host Brad Lidge, however, it is clear, between Harper and Machado, who the club should pursue.
"For the Phillies, I believe Bryce Harper is probably a better fit," Lidge said on Friday. "I love the way he can potentially just go crazy in that ballpark. Right field in that ballpark is a joke, and if Bryce Harper is missing balls off the handle of his bat, or off the end of his bat – we’ve already seen Bryce break a bat and go out to center field in D.C. That’s how strong the dude is and that’s how violent he swings."
We have already seen a decent sample size of just how Harper could "go crazy" in Citizens Bank Park. Harper launched five home runs in seven games at Citizens Bank Park during his National League Most Valuable Player Award season in 2015. Through 50 career games at the venue — albeit against Phillies pitching — Harper has slashed .268/.365/.564 with five doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 32 RBI, and 33 runs scored spanning 208 plate appearances.
Lidge said that if Harper is able to utilize his power and Citizens Bank Park's dimensions to his advantage, the potential for him to hit 50 home runs in red pinstripes is "absolutely there." The retired two-time All-Star and 11-year veteran added that with Machado, he has already played in a fantastic ballpark to hit his "entire career," so we already know what we are "going to get."
"I just think the ceiling is higher with Bryce. I think his ability to do some extraordinary things is higher," Lidge said. "He’s going to be more inconsistent probably than Manny, but his ceiling is also higher."
Harper and his agent Scott Boras have already rejected a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals, and are expected to be seeking a deal in excess of $350 million. For Lidge, if a team like the Phillies spending "that much money," he said he would want a guy that potentially could produce "monster numbers" maybe not every year, "but two out of three years."
"That's Bryce Harper," Lidge said.
"I think he is a better fit for the Phillies, and I think probably for most places, Bryce Harper is a little bit higher on my scale than Manny Machado."