As the month of January comes to a close, the two top Major League Baseball free agents in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned. The pair of superstars have garnered interest from a wide array of teams over the course of the offseason, but nothing has come to fruition thus far.
While there was recent speculation that Harper could be nearing an agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies, those reports were quickly refuted. Instead, Harper appears content in allowing his market to continue developing.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the San Diego Padres have emerged as a late entrant in the Harper sweepstakes and will meet with him in his hometown of Las Vegas on Thursday:
Per source, meeting is tonight. https://t.co/LQgI9jceJD
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2019
Jon Morosi of MLB.com adds that the Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals and Phillies are still in the mix to sign him, and that one of the four aforementioned teams will most likely secure his services:
Bryce Harper has four active suitors as February nears, source confirms: #Nationals, #Phillies, #WhiteSox, and now #Padres. At least one other team remains involved on periphery, but overwhelming likelihood is he will sign with one of those four clubs. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 31, 2019
Despite being relatively inactive this winter with the exception of signing Ian Kinsler, the Padres have jumped out as one of the most intriguing teams to keep an eye on as Spring Training approaches.
In addition to landing a meeting with Harper, the club previously expressed interest to meet with Machado as well. Moreover, San Diego has recently engaged with the Miami Marlins in trade talks for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, so it’s clear they’re looking to make a splash.
With one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, the Padres figure a blockbuster acquisition will help accelerate their timeline back into contention. Signing Harper would go a long way towards making that a reality.