MLB Free Agency Rumors: Bryce Harper Competition Winds Down As Another Team Reportedly Bows Out

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The Bryce Harper sweepstakes continues to wind down, with a new rumor indicating that one of the former contending teams is bowing out of the competition for him.

The signing of Manny Machado with the San Diego Padres has turned all eyes to Harper and his seemingly never-ending free agency. Though reports have consistently pegged the Philadelphia Phillies as the frontrunner for Harper, the long and sometimes agonizing wait without a deal has led to rumors that other teams may be sweeping in.

One of the teams mentioned frequently has been the Chicago White Sox, who first met with Harper back in November and were reportedly interested in both Harper and Machado at one point. The Sox missed out on Machado, and a new report from 670 The Score indicates that Chicago is now out on Harper as well.

“The White Sox won’t bid on star outfielder Bryce Harper as his free agency continues, a source told Bruce Levine of 670 The Score on Thursday,” the report noted.

This comes amid a series of reports that the Phillies had emerged above all other suitors. Matt Breen of Philly reported on Thursday that the Phillies are “confident” that they will sign the 26-year-old outfielder, and that negotiations between the two sides have been ramping up after the Phillies missed out on signing Machado. It’s believed that Harper will top the $300 million contract signed by Machado, and could top $320 million overall.

There could still be some hurdles for the Phillies. As the MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman reported on Thursday, the Nationals were still in at least some level of contention for Harper. While it may not change the dynamic of the Phillies being seen as the frontrunner, Washington’s involvement could push up the price for Harper into record territory.

After having lost out on Manny Machado and reportedly backing out of contention for Bryce Harper, the Chicago White Sox appear to be moving forward on the strength of a solid young core of players and without a big-name free agent. The White Sox have one of the top prospects in baseball in Eloy Jiminez, who is likely to become the team’s starting right fielder at some point this season. And as the Fansided blog Call to the Pen noted, the White Sox could also still be in on some other free agents like starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who would shore up the back end of their rotation.