While there were multiple teams expected to be involved in the pursuit of Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado in free agency, perhaps none has been as transparent with their interest than the Philadelphia Phillies.
Last November, owner John Middleton openly stated his team intended to spend lavishly on at least one free agent. Over recent weeks the Phillies and Chicago White Sox have been linked to both Harper and Machado.
That’s come with a growing sentiment out of Philadelphia that they will sign at least one of the mega stars. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, it appears the Phillies have since pulled ahead in the sweepstakes for Harper:
The Philadelphia Phillies, and not the Washington Nationals, have emerged as the clear-cut favorite to sign free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper after meeting with him for five hours Saturday in Las Vegas, three officials told USA TODAY Sports.
While the Washington Nationals may have lost some ground, they still can’t be completely ruled out for a reunion with Harper, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
Though a USA Today report deemed Philadelphia a “clear-cut favorite” to sign Harper, the Washington Nationals remain a possible landing spot for the 26-year-old outfielder, according to sources.
It’s unclear if the Phillies have reached the point of formally submitting a contract offer to the 26-year-old outfielder. Harper reportedly rejected a 10-year, $300 million pact from the Nationals prior to the 2018 regular season concluding.
Although indications began to suggest the Nationals would no longer pursue re-signing him, they were said to have made a more lucrative offer to Harper.
Should he go on to sign with the Phillies, it will cap off a busy and expensive offseason for the club. They’ve already signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, and acquired All-Star shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.