The Chicago White Sox are considered dark-horse candidates to sign one (or both) of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. But from a financial standpoint, their interest in this offseason's two biggest free agents may only go so far.
While the White Sox still like both Machado and Harper, they're not inclined to offer record-setting contracts for either player, a source told ESPN's Buster Olney.
Both players are expected to sign massive deals with their new teams, and Harper, in particular, is aiming for what would be a record agreement.
The White Sox are coming off a 100-loss season, but their rebuild has yielded a multitude of young players who will be ready to make an impact soon. The AL Central also appears to be up for grabs in 2019, perhaps adding some urgency to their pursuit of both players.
They also appear to have money to spend in free agency. Last year, the White Sox ran the third-lowest payroll in baseball at approximately $71.8 million, per Spotrac; right now, they have about $35 million in guaranteed salaries for 2019, with just one player on their current roster - arbitration-eligible slugger Jose Abreu - set to earn above $10 million.
Chicago was reportedly one of four clubs that met with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, before the winter meetings. It's not clear if the team sat down with Machado this winter, but it's one of three franchises apparently known to be in the running for his services.
The White Sox like Machado so much that Olney reports they tried to trade for him last year, while he was still with the Baltimore Orioles.
Although it's unclear where they stand in the Harper and Machado derbies, the White Sox have been busy making other moves this week. They swung trades to acquire starter Ivan Nova and first baseman Yonder Alonso - who happens to be Machado's brother-in-law - and also reportedly signed catcher James McCann.