The buzz surrounding 26-year-old free agent Bryce Harper is heating up, as more teams drop out of the race in vying for his signature.
On Friday, the Washington Nationals — Harper’s former team — confirmed they have had no contact with the outfielder since 2018, putting them firmly out of the running for a contract with him. Left hoping to convince Harper to make a move are the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, and the Philadelphia Phillies.
With all sorts of rumors doing the rounds that Harper would prefer not to move to Philadelphia given the distance between the Pennsylvania city and his hometown of Las Vegas, many have been wondering whether he would rather take one of the two California-based offers on the table.
Despite this, the Phillies are confident in their ability to close the deal on Harper, now that the Nationals have publicly expressed their disinterest, according to Philly.com.
With speculation emerging that the Giants are hesitant about making an offer for a long-term deal — and the fact that the Padres are out a fortune after signing a contract with fellow free agent Manny Machado — the Phillies are confident that they will be the best bet for Harper.
Another team that announced they were bowing out of the race on Thursday were the Chicago White Sox.
Reports indicate that Harper has turned down multiple $300 million deals in the past few weeks, perhaps indicating that he is looking for a record-breaking contract — one that would put him over Giancarlo Stanton’s 2014 deal that saw him earn $325 million. Harper has also made it clear that he wants a long-term deal, not a short-term contract, which could knock the Giants out of the running.
The Padres — who have already signed Machado this week for a 10-year, $300 million deal — are reportedly still hoping to lure Harper to San Diego, despite early speculation they were out after Machado had signed.
Meanwhile, Nationals owner Ted Lerner made clear where the Washington side stands with regards to Harper.
“We’ve moved on,” Lerner said. “As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best.”
The Nationals reportedly offered Harper the same deal Machado has just signed with the Padres, indicating that he is either looking for a breath of fresh air elsewhere, or for more money in his pocket.
Either way, it seems the Philadelphia Phillies are confident they have just what he is looking for.