MLB: Little free agency action, but bettors use lull to seek edge
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still out there, as spring training looms
Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are still unsigned. Harper is meeting with more and more teams in Las Vegas as Scott Boras tries to squeeze out every last penny. Things have been eerily quiet on the Machado front.
I reported that bettors are finding value in the rumors, specifically on the Phillies. But how much will things actually shift when judgement day(s) come? Pat Porada, Sportsbook Product Manager at New Jersey-based Resorts Digital, says the betting landscape could change drastically depending on what happens.
“Adding Harper would have a huge impact on the win totals,” Porada told Bettors Insider. “The Phillies opened at 83 wins and since then, rumors of signing either Harper or Machado has already moved to 87. I think it’s safe to say that confirming the signing of Harper would increase that total again by another two to three wins, which would move the line to around 90 wins in the season.
How about both Harper and Machado to the Phillies, as unlikely as it may be?
“It’s unlikely the Phillies would sign both superstar free agents,” Porada warned. “However, if that did happen, their total could jump all the way to 92-93 games, 10 games more than they opened at.”
Ten games is quite the swing, and 92 wins would easily put the Phillies in the playoff picture, perhaps toward the top of the weaker National League. It would turn some eyes to the team from Philadelphia hoisting a trophy in late October or early November rather than watching from a golf course clubhouse like the past few seasons.
“Currently, the Yankees together with the Astros and the Red Sox are the joint favorites to win it all,” Porada said. “If one of these teams signed either Harper or Machado it would put them in pole position on the World Series betting market. The same could be said about the L.A. Dodgers.”
“If Harper or Machado signs with the Phillies, then their odds would shorten, but they would still stay behind the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Astros in the betting,” he added.”
No other team is in a position to land both mega stars. So what happens if one decides to go to either the Yankees, Dodgers or White Sox? It’s a two or three-game shift in the win totals in most cases.
“We expect any team to sign him to see their win totals increase by two to three minimum, potentially even more if an outside team captures Machado,” Porada said, with the same theory applying to Harper.
With so much still up in the air, it would make sense that bettors have held off on grabbing their tickets until things are sorted out, right? Not so much.
“Surprisingly, not really,” Porada said when asked if the market was stagnant. “Often the speculation creates more interest with fans trying to get an edge when prompted by the rumors, and this is what we have seen here. While some bettors may be waiting until all becomes clear, others are looking to get the best value possible.”