With the Bryce Harper free agent saga reaching the end of another week, teams continue to back off from the race to sign the 26-year-old who, according to ESPN.com, is believed to be holding out for a contract totaling over $400 million in salary.
But one of the teams thought to be in the hunt for Harper — the team with which he has played his entire career so far, the Washington Nationals — said on Friday that they have “moved on” from their efforts to bring Harper back to the club, according to NBC Sports. And another club that had reportedly made an unsuccessful offer to Harper, the Chicago White Sox, have also declared themselves “out of the Harper sweepstakes,” according to baseball reporter Bob Nightengale of USA Today, per a Twitter post.
Now, at least according to a former Nationals general manager, another team is effectively out of the running as well — though they are not saying so publicly, yet. The San Diego Padres, who earlier this week inked free agent infielder Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million pact, per ESPN.com, had been rumored to have remained a possibility to sign Harper as well. But that, according to the former GM, is no longer the case.
Jim Bowden — who ran the Nationals from 2006 to 2009 and is now a baseball columnist — said in a Friday appearance on MLB Network Radio that the chance that the Padres will sign Harper “is zero.”
According to an earlier report by baseball “insider” journalist Jon Heyman, the Padres remained open to signing Harper — even after the Machado signing — thanks to, as The Inquisitr reported, a low payroll that would total only about $105 million for 2019. That figure includes Machado’s annual salary. But according to Bowden, even at price equivalent to Machado — lower than what Harper is rumored to be seeking — the Padres are out.
But Padres GM A.J. Preller has maintained a public stance of openness to signing Harper, according to Bowden, out of his desire not to “alienate” Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, who is perhaps the most powerful agent in the baseball industry.
Boras represents a number of top players who will soon hit the free agent market as well, including Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, Houston Astros infielder — and 2017 American League MVP — Jose Altuve, current free agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger, according to Sports Agent Blog.
“You’re not supposed to comment on these things, so I think that the Padres are being really careful,” Bowden said in the MLB Network Radio interview, via Twitter. “The chance of them signing another $300 million player, tomorrow, on Harper, is zero.”