The San Francisco Giants are the latest team to get involved in the Bryce Harper Sweepstakes, and they appear to have some real interest in making a play for MLB’s top free agent. While they might not be the favorites to sign the outfielder, rumors of Harper seriously considering the Bay Area team started to pick up steam over the weekend.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale followed up the recent speculation by reporting that San Francisco planned to offer Harper a lucrative short-term deal instead of the long-term contract he’s been looking for. It’s been expected that it would take close to a 10-year year commitment to lock up the 26-year-old, though it’s possible that the lack of desirable offers could force Harper to sign a shorter contract with eyes on re-entering free agency again before he turns 30 years old.

Let’s just say, for argument's sake, that Harper signs with the Giants relatively soon. What would that mean for Manny Machado?

Machado was expected to go off the board first, but he’s seemingly been more frustrated at perceived “lowball” offers than Harper. Harper entered the offseason after he reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals. It doesn’t sound like Machado has gotten anything close to record-setting money.

The best way for Machado to receive an offer that approaches Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million deal would probably be for Harper to sign first, and not with the Philadelphia Phillies or Chicago White Sox. The two teams have been in pursuit of both free agents, hoping to have at least one of them on their roster for the start of the 2019 MLB season.

That’s especially been the case for the Phillies. Even though the team has made significant upgrades by acquiring Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia has yet to be “stupid” about spending money as ownership indicated it would.

Fans and insiders have essentially considered it to be a near lock that the Phillies would sign Machado or Harper. There was even speculation that the team had an outside shot of landing both players.

Bryce Harper Washington Nationals Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals grounds out against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Nationals Park on June 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Chicago hasn’t been as connected to Harper, but rumors of a union between Machado and the White Sox have really picked up in recent weeks. They’ve become the strong favorites to sign the infielder with teams like Philadelphia and the San Diego Padres seemingly more focused on Harper.

If Harper becomes unavailable, it could create a bidding war for Machado between Philadelphia and Chicago. The team that doesn’t sign Machado in such a scenario would have to consider this offseason to be a major disappointment.

Multiple reports say the White Sox have offered Machado $175 million over seven years, and other suitors haven’t yet forced them to increased that offer. You can bet Harper signing with the Giants—or any team for that matter—would mean the Phillies jumping in and presenting Machado with a big contract.

If Philadelphia truly does have the deepest pockets of any organization this winter, they should be willing to overpay—at least compared to the offers that have been made this offseason—for one of the superstars if the other signs elsewhere.

Perhaps that’s why Harper and Machado are both still free agents with spring training just about to start. They could be waiting for the other player to blink, hoping to take advantage of teams that are desperate to land a star for the upcoming season.