Are Padres the mystery team after Manny Machado, Bryce Harper?

Are Padres the mystery team after Manny Machado, Bryce Harper?

As the hot stove drags deeper into the winter, the door stays open for lurkers.

Enter the Padres, who have kept tabs on the likes of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Mike Moustakas and Marwin Gonzalez, according to Fancred.

The Padres are in the midst of a rebuild and came in last in the NL West last season at 66-96, but while they are reportedly shooting for 2020 as their year to make their move, landing one of the prized free agents this year could expedite that process.

Already with one of the best farm systems in MLB, the Padres could cash in on a slow-moving market as there is still no indication Machado or Harper will sign anywhere soon with spring training less than a month away.

The Padres made a big signing late in the offseason last year, when they gave Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract — the largest in club history. A deal for Machado or Harper figures to require significantly more than that.

Machado has visited with the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox, though his dad made it sound last week like there could be a surprise coming. Harper, meanwhile, had a long visit with the Phillies earlier this month as the Nationals, White Sox and Dodgers loom as other suitors.

While the Phillies are seemingly in on every big free agent left — including Machado, Harper, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — the Padres may be playing the same game, just in more subtle fashion.

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