After Manny Machado signed for $300 million with the San Diego Padres Tuesday, the conventional wisdom stated that Bryce Harper, this year’s other major star free agent, would likely get at least that much from whichever team he ends up on.
According to one new report, Harper may have already received – and turned down – multiple offers above that amount.
Reporter Jon Heyman said on Twitter Wednesday that Harper “is believed to” have been offered, and turned down, contracts worth over $300 million “in recent weeks.” Heyman also said that at least five teams are believed to still be in contact with the slugger and that the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, and “perhaps” the Washington Nationals have a better chance to obtain Harper than the Chicago White Sox or San Diego Padres.
The Padres, after all, already signed Machado, while the White Sox, Heyman said, were more focused on Machado than on Harper before he signed in San Diego.
ESPN reporter Buster Olney said on the Baseball Tonight podcast Thursday, per Inquisitr, that he wouldn’t be surprised if the ultimate contract amount for Harper exceeds $400 million. Machado had been the second player in baseball history, and the first free agent, to receive a contract of $300 million or more. Olney and his guest on the podcast, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, agreed that the Philadelphia Phillies are the most likely landing spot for Harper.
Also on Wednesday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said on Twitter that he believes the White Sox are out of the Harper sweepstakes, while other reports are conflicted on whether or not the Padres still plan to pursue Harper.
The coming days and weeks (?) feel like they are about much more than the Phillies and Bryce Harper and $300 million. Business vs. entertainment. Objectivity vs. emotion. What a fascinating time: https://t.co/yNFJLxlc29
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) February 19, 2019
The 26-year-old Harper has played his entire career with the Washington Nationals, who drafted him first overall out of high school in 2010. Harper has won Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in his time with the Nationals but has never won a playoff series with Washington.
Last weekend, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote a column from spring training in which he ripped Harper for a lack of leadership and hustle, while talking up the new players the team has added in the offseason. Boswell did not put the criticism in the mouth of any player, except for one veteran on the team who he quoted as telling Boswell, of the anti-Harper story, “write it.”
The Nationals have not been frequently mentioned as a strong contender to keep their star player, although most reporters of the situation at least mention them as a possibility.