According to MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman, the Philadelphia Phillies are the current favorites for Bryce Harper, and whatever deal he receives will be a long-term deal. Heyman noted that talks are believed to have “intensified” between the two sides. In addition, SNY’s Andy Martino tweeted that among rival clubs, there is a “definite sense” that the Phillies are in the lead for Harper. These two nuggets come on the heels of former major league general manager Jim Bowden saying on CBS Sports HQ Saturday that the Phillies were “rounding third base” in their discussions with the six-time All-Star.
If this feels like deja vu, you wouldn’t be wrong. Long having been named the favorites for the superstar outfielder, the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres recently stepped into the mix. At one point, BetOnline had given the Giants 1/1 odds of signing Harper, with the Padres at 5/2 and the Phillies at 4/1. However, the Giants planned to offer Harper a short-term deal with big money as USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported, which was countered by Heyman reporting that Harper would not be taking a short-term deal under any circumstances. Considering the Giants are loaded with unappealing contracts (such as Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon), that report may very well take them out of the running.
However, as Heyman emphasized, nothing is imminent as of now. The Phillies are likely more appealing to Harper now than ever, having added All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the lineup. Heyman did point out that the Phillies are still in talks with both Harper and four-time All-Star Manny Machado, and Harper is still chatting with other clubs. However, the Harper-Phillies match is “the most likely,” per Heyman.
For Harper, his demands are something perhaps only the Phillies can meet at this point in the offseason. Many other teams have already added players that fill outfield spots, don’t have the space to add a contract of that size or simply don’t wish to pay him that much. In addition, San Diego and San Francisco both don’t equal up to the Phillies in regards to the current talent they possess.
Harper, 26, slashed .249/.393/.496 with 34 homers, 103 runs and 13 stolen bases last season, as well as registering an .889 OPS mark. He also had career-highs with 100 RBIs and 130 walks.
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