By Sam Bush

Remember the Phils offseason between 2018 and 2019?

Owner John Middleton said he would spend “stupid money” to sign free agents.

And the two biggest fish in the sea were Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

As the Phillies prepare to try to save their season in San Diego against the Padres, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale has put a fine point on Harper-Machado:

Manny Machado and Bryce Harper grew up on opposite sides of the country, one from South Florida and the other from Las Vegas, meeting for the first time as teenagers, winning a gold medal together at the junior Pan Am Games in 2009.

Their baseball careers have run closely parallel ever since.

They were selected two picks apart in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft, with Harper going first and Machado third then played their home games just 41 miles from one another, in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. They made their major-league debut the same year in 2012, hit free agency at the same time, and signed $630 million worth of contracts one week apart in the spring of 2019.

The East Coast kid (Machado) went West to San Diego, and the West Coast kid (Harper) went East to Philadelphia.

“It’s really weird, right?’’ Phillies manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “They didn’t stay close to home, either one of them. They made their spring training cities far away from their homes.’’

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