Bryce Harper is rumored to be nearing the end of a long and arduous free agency, but his expected signing with the Philadelphia Phillies could still have a few more roadblocks in the way.
The Phillies have been widely reported to be the only team in tight contention for Harper after fellow big-name free agent Manny Machado inked a deal with the San Diego Padres. As MLB.com reported, the Nationals have fallen out of contention as Harper’s former team has no plans to offer something similar to the 10-year, $300 million deal that Machado is getting. The Yankees had been mentioned on the periphery of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes as well, but only if he were willing to accept a short-term deal, which Harper is reportedly not. They would likely still be in if Harper changes his mind, but as of now, there is no indication that will happen.
That leaves the Phillies as the team in most serious contention, but they are apparently not entirely alone. Andy Martino of SNY reported that the San Francisco Giants could still offer Harper a contract, and though it doesn’t change the dynamic of the Phillies being a frontrunner, Martino said it gives Philadelphia a “tough road” to get a deal done. Martino indicated that San Francisco’s interest could drive up Harper’s price for the Phillies, and he noted that the 26-year-old outfielder will likely end up getting somewhere around 10 years and $326 million.
Despite the reports that the Giants may still have plans on making an offer, it appears that the Phillies are moving forward as if Harper will be signed. The MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman reported on Twitter that Philadelphia’s “total focus” is on Harper and that the Phillies are already planning on signing Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel (or both) to complement his signing and make the team more of an immediate contender.
Philadelphia Phillies might be forced to overpay Bryce Harper and give him the biggest contract in MLB history https://t.co/Uk9rafLnjp
— Intl. Business Times (@IBTimes) February 20, 2019
Whatever happens with Bryce Harper, it appears that the rumors will be swirling up until the moment he signs his new contract. Machado faced a similar level of interest, and at the time reports leaked of his deal with the Padres, there were still some other teams – namely the White Sox – seen as still being in contention. While the field for Harper may be smaller in comparison, the continued interest from other teams is likely to complicate matters for the Phillies and will likely force the team into offering an MLB-record contract in order to close the deal.