The Philadelphia Phillies have been installed as the favorites to sign in-demand free agent Bryce Harper after they held a “very positive” five-hour meeting with the player and his agent Saturday, but it remains unclear if an offer has yet been made.
The right-fielder has been the most sought-after player this offseason with a number of franchises making their interest known. The Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals have been the other big players in the Harper sweepstakes, while the Los Angeles Dodgers have also been mentioned more than once.
The Nationals were initially ruled out of the running after reports indicated that Harper, who played for them from 2012 to 2018, had rejected their offer of a 10-year contract worth $300 million. But his former team were then installed as favorites after MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand reported that they had increased their offer.
But the Phillies, whose owner John Middleton has admitted in the past that they are ready to spend big to land their preferred targets, seem to have taken the lead in the race for Harper’s signature. Initially they were said to be more interested in Manny Machado, the other sought-after free agent this offseason, but according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman they have now tilted toward the outfielder.
The Chicago Cubs were also touted as potential contenders with reports indicating that they were clearing salary space to make a run at Harper, but manager Joe Maddon has now completely ruled them out of the race when he stated “not going to happen” when asked about the possibility of signing the right-fielder during a Q&A with fans.
When it comes to signing top players in free agency there are always mystery teams involved apart from the known teams for a player. And Harper has his share of them with John Heyman reporting that there are several teams waiting in the wings for the penny to drop before making their move.
However, there has been one new entrant, who have openly declared their interest in signing Harper. The Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins confirmed they have contemplated signing the right-fielder as he believes he will fit in well between young shortstop Bo Bichette and 19-year-old third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“It’s something that we’ve contemplated; we’ll continue to. There’s a lot of talent that would be able to help our organization moving forward and we’ll continue to consider all of our alternatives,” the Blue Jays general manager added talking about Harper.