While Philadelphia Phillies and the rest of the baseball world await Manny Machado’s decision on where he will be playing this upcoming season, they are planning to meet with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper this weekend.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported on Monday night that the Phillies front office is going to meet with Harper and his agent Scott Boras for their first-to-face meeting in Las Vegas on Saturday. Among the contingent that will be there for Philadelphia is managing partner John Middleton.
Last week, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that the Phils was planning to meet with the 26-year-old Harper within the next week or so. Harper has also reportedly spoken to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this offseason.
In regards to his former team, the Washington Nationals, Nightengale reported that Harper and Boras met with owner Ted Lerner in late December. The Nationals reportedly offered him a 10-year, $300 million contract extension on the final day of the 2018 regular season, which Harper turned down. Since then, Washington has said that offer is not on the table anymore.
However, this is not the first time that the Phillies have spoken with Boras as the two parties conversed at the winter meetings last month in Vegas.
It is no secret that Philadelphia wants either Machado or Harper, especially with the amount of money they can spend. Multiple reports have said this offseason that the Phillies are primarily interested in Machado over Harper.
But Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported back in December that Harper is “believed to be the Phillies’ top target.” Additionally, it has been mentioned that neither player is enamored with the idea of playing in Philadelphia.
However, we should take that with a grain of salt because even though Philly is not a huge media market such as New York or Los Angeles, the Phillies do play in one of the more favorable hitters’ parks in the majors.
Over his illustrious career, Harper is slashing .268/365/.564 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs in 50 games at Citizens Bank Park. That is the most homers he has hit at any other ballpark outside of Nationals Park.
This past season, Harper slashed .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI. Despite his auspicious start to the 2018 campaign, where he had 23 home runs and a batting average of .214, the 26-year-old superstar racked up a career-high 130 walks. But on that same note, he also struck out an enormous 169 times.
Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how things play out in this cat and mouse game between Harper and Machado’s agents. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that one agent is waiting for the other blink and get their client the best deal possible.
With that being said, I would place my money actually on Harper to make his decision first, before Machado.