The free agent market in Major League Baseball has once again been slow this offseason, as most teams in baseball have chosen not to offer large contracts to veteran free agents, and those who have signed have received less money than expected.
As the end of January approaches, with the start of spring training about a month away, the two highest-profile free agents, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Manny Machado, are both yet to sign. Both players have been linked to the Philadelphia Phillies, and now a report states that a Harper deal with the Phillies may be done soon.
According to Vegas Gambling Steam, a Twitter account that covers trends in gambling, Harper has agreed to sign a “multi year mega contract” with the Phillies.
Vegas Gambling Steam is not an account known for breaking stories about baseball transactions, although it’s worth noting that Las Vegas is Harper’s hometown and that Harper met with the Phillies in Las Vegas earlier this month.
It’s not clear whether the Vegas tweet has taken Harper prop bets off the board at any particular casinos or other gambling outlets.
Bryce Harper has agreed to multi year mega contract with Philadelphia Phillies, source says deal was wrapped up pending medicals #Vegas has taken all Bryce Harper prop bets off the board
— Vegas Gambling Steam (@Pregame_Steam) January 29, 2019
Meanwhile, in another potential clue about Harper’s intentions and the timing of a potential signing, the official Twitter account of the baseball video game MLB The Show sent a message Monday with a picture of Harper and the message “You’ll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow… just saying.”
Harper, who is generally viewed as one of the best players in the game, has played his entire career with Washington. Having graduated a year early from high school in order to gain draft eligibility, Harper was drafted at age 17 and made his Major League debut with the Nationals at age 19, meaning that at 26, he’s unusually young for a first-time free agent.
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) January 29, 2019
Harper has always played well in Philadelphia, and with Phillies owner John Middleton declaring the team’s intention to spend money this offseason, the Phillies currently have the best odds to sign both Harper and Machado, per NBC Sports.
Meanwhile, per Philly.com, Twitter has suspended an account called “JeffEvansMLB,” which falsely claimed to be a reporter sharing news of a Harper contract with the Phillies.
Various theories have been put forward as to why baseball’s free agent market has been so slow, with speculation centering on everything from the large number of teams in rebuilding mode to prevailing strategy in the game moving against veteran free agents as well as a reprise of the collusion conspiracy that the baseball owners were caught carrying out in the 1980s.