As spring training continued Wednesday without any definitive news about outfielder Bryce Harper's free agency destination, an MLB.com report Wednesday night questioned whether any teams other than the Philadelphia Phillies might be willing to offer Harper more than $300 million.
According to the report by Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki, Harper's current team, the Washington Nationals, "have no plans" to give Harper a contract in the neighborhood of the 10-year, $300 million pact given to shortstop Manny Machado earlier this week by the San Diego Padres.
With the Padres having signed Machado, the White Sox declaring $300 million "not feasible" for Machado, and the San Francisco Giants seen as not wanting to sign Harper long-term, "the Phillies have been wondering who their competition might be," Zolecki wrote, though he also raised the possibility of a "mystery team" bidding for Harper's services.
Despite the declaration by Phillies owner John Middleton that the team might spend "stupid money" this offseason, Zolecki wrote that "the Phillies are expected to sign Harper, but they are not expected to be too stupid about it."
The reporter also said that the Phillies met face-to-face with Harper's agent, Scott Boras, last week in Florida, in addition to the meeting team brass had with Harper himself in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Jon Heyman reported Wednesday, per the Inquisitr, that Harper "is believed to have" received and rejected multiple offers of more than $300 million this offseason. Also on Wednesday, ESPN reporter Buster Olney said on an ESPN podcast that it wouldn't shock him if the ultimate agreement for Harper is for over $400 million.
But Olney and his guest on the podcast, baseball reporter Scott Miller, agreed that the Phillies are the most likely team to land Harper.Matt Klentak, the Phillies' general manager, was also quoted about the team's approach to the negotiations.
"I think very similar to the way we approached the Manny discussions," Klentak told the media this week. "We will continue to proceed with other free agents that make sense for this franchise. We have to remember that there will be other free agents after this offseason.
Meanwhile, a report this week in the Athletic looked at how the Phillies will make the Harper decision, including whether it will affect the pursuit of other free agents in the coming years. This may include Mike Trout, the Angels superstar who is from Southern New Jersey and grew up cheering for the Phillies.