By Sam Bush

The ball is in the Phillies court as they continue to court free agent star Manny Machado.

ESPN is reporting that Machado is “sitting on an eight-year offer from the Chicago White Sox” and is still engaged with the Phillies while their pursuit of Bryce Harper grew stronger with an in-person meeting in Las Vegas over the weekend, league sources told ESPN.

Chicago’s willingness to offer a deal in the 10-year range has been questioned, as the largest contract in franchise history was Jose Abreu’s six-year, $68 million deal.

Guaranteeing eight years on Machado illustrates the seriousness of the White Sox in their pursuit, according to sources, and could portend the ability to proffer a decade-long offer — especially if the Phils or the supposed mystery team continues engaging with Machado.

The slow-developing markets for Harper and Machado aren’t necessarily indicative of teams’ willingness to reach the $300 million threshold seen as a starting point for both players.

The number of teams involved is smaller than anticipated, but Phillies owner John Middleton suggested to USA Today that his team might be “even a little stupid about” spending money this offseason, and the White Sox’s transition from rebuilding to competitive in the American League Central is close.

Chicago already has traded for first baseman Yonder Alonso, Machado’s brother-in-law, and signed outfielder Jon Jay, a close friend. The transactions by themselves haven’t swayed Machado to deem the White Sox a favorite, but they were strong indications of Chicago’s seriousness about signing Machado.