Could we be getting close to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado making a decision on where they will be playing this upcoming season?
It appears that we are on the verge of something happening as according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, the Philadelphia Phillies have emerged as the “clear-cut favorite” to sign Harper.
The Phils front office met with the 26-year-old superstar outfielder and his agent Scott Boras over the weekend in Las Vegas for their first face-to-face meeting.
Nightengale also adds that Philly is expected to make a formal offer within a week while the Washington Nationals’ interest in Harper is waning. The Nationals are reportedly calling a reunion between the two sides a “long shot.”
The 26-year-old Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension on the final day of the 2018 regular season. The two sides also met last month, but nothing of substance really came from the meeting.
Nevertheless, it does not come as a surprise to see the Phillies as the clubhouse leader for the superstar outfielder. Despite it being reported throughout this offseason that the Phils preferred Machado over Harper, Philly is not waiting for the superstar infielder.
Last month, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported that Harper is “believed to be the Phillies’ top target.” If Philly was to sign the 26-year-old superstar it would give them a boost not only in ticket sales but also in the lineup.
Could imagine a lineup where Harper is hitting in front of Rhys Hoskins? It would make things tough for opposing team’s pitchers on deciding who to pitch to.
In 50 games at Citizens Bank Park, Harper is slashing .268/.365/.564 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs. Furthermore, that is the most homers he has hit at any other ballpark outside of Nationals Park.
Last season, Harper slashed .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. He also drew a career-high 169 walks, despite compiling 169 strikeouts.
In addition to the ongoing Harper sweepstakes, we do have some information regarding Machado. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Sunday night that the superstar third baseman/shortstop is sitting on an eight-year deal from the Chicago White Sox, but the Phillies are still engaged with him.
This latest news falls in line with what has been reported over the last couple of weeks. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score said last Wednesday that the 26-year-old All-star’s decision is expected to come within a week.
He also reported a couple weeks ago that the White Sox would not give him or Harper an offer of more than seven years. Therefore, to see Chicago go over their reported amount for the superstar infielder shows how much they want him.
However, with the Phillies still lurking in the background along with a mystery team, nothing is set in stone yet.
Is it a real possibility to see both Machado and Harper donning the red pinstripes in a couple weeks? For sure, especially if Machado sees Harper ultimately sign with the Phillies.
Would he want to join a loaded Phillies squad looking to be a real contender in the NL? Or join a White Sox team, who made a lot of family moves this offseason to appeal to him, but are not one of the upcoming teams in the AL?
It should be interesting to see how everything plays as out with spring training on the horizon.