The rumors surrounding Bryce Harper are reaching a fever pitch as MLB teams open spring training this week with pitchers and catchers reporting, and an apparent contract demand from the slugger could be pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to the front of the pack.
The Phillies had long been seen as a frontrunner to sign the offseason’s most coveted free agent, but the long wait for Harper to find an offer worth signing had opened the door for some other teams to enter or re-enter the Harper sweepstakes. That includes the San Francisco Giants, with the team reportedly making another late bid for him.
But as Yahoo Sports reported, the Giants were reportedly offering something other than a long-term deal for the 26-year-old. Harper’s camp this week signaled that he wouldn’t consider any short-term deals, which seems to push the Giants back to the edges of contention to sign him.
As Philly Voice reported, team insider Bob Nightengale reported that Harper is down to just two teams in consideration to sign for the upcoming season – the Phillies and Giants. The Phillies have already shown a willingness to commit to a long-term deal for Harper, which means the Giants – or a new team – would need to match that in order to sign Harper.
The betting markets seem to favor the Phillies as well, with oddsmaker OddsShark putting Philadelphia at the top of the pack followed in order by the Giants, Padres, Dodgers, and Nationals.
Where will Bryce Harper sign? ???? pic.twitter.com/5jfT8g2p7W— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 12, 2019
The latest Bryce Harper rumor would seem to eliminate the Nationals, as well as the Chicago White Sox from contention. Both of those teams were once close in the running to sign Harper.
There could still be a hitch with the Phillies, as the team is also still close in the running to sign the offseason’s other coveted free agent, Manny Machado. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the team believes it will be able to land one of the two, so if the Machado signing were to come first, it would more than likely put them out of contention for Harper.
Even with weeks going by and more teams checking in on the two mega star free agents — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — the Phillies still believe they will land one of the 2 superstars. They do have financial clout. #stupidmoney— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 3, 2019
It’s not clear when the Bryce Harper sweepstakes will come to an end, but it will likely be sooner rather than later. Teams are opening camp over the course of the next week, and there has been growing outside pressure from the league itself and other players who had been disdained at the lack of movement on the biggest free agent in years.