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Jon Lester: ‘It sucks’ Bryce Harper, Manny Machado remain unsigned

The free-agency sagas of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado slog on with seemingly no end in sight, a baffling development with Spring Training set to get underway.

Count Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester among a group including Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander that believes there’s something awry about two of MLB’s biggest superstars still standing on the sideline at this late stage, calling it a “sad time” for baseball.

While reports, speculation and rumors abound concerning the potential ultimate endgames for both Harper and Machado in their respective, protracted pursuit of a new team, both sluggers remain unsigned. To Lester, that’s a sign that the system may be broken.

“We got two of the greatest superstars in the game, faces of baseball that don’t have teams, and we’re starting spring training,” Lester said this week from Cubs’ camp in Mesa, Ariz., via the Chicago Tribune. “It sucks on our end. Something has to give. We got to figure out what’s actually going on with this stuff and get these guys who had pretty good years sitting at home right now. We got to figure out what’s going on right now.”

Harper and Machado are both believed to be seeking $300 million deals, despite the fact that teams interested in signing them have balked at such terms.

As the Harper free agency saga limps along, the San Francisco Giants reportedly have been  “making a late play” to sign him, although it’s believed the team is more interested in a short-term deal, which evidently does not pique Harper’s interest.

On the Machado front, there appears to be some confusion as to what the Chicago White Sox, long believed to be front-runners to sign him, have offered him in terms of a contract.

The San Diego Padres are also said to be players on both sluggers. In other words, there’s been a lot of smoke but no fire.

All that said, Major League Baseball arguably has a major issue to confront given how high-profile players are expressing such dissatisfaction with the abysmal rate at which free agents are being signed heading into the 2019 season.