Baseball fans, or at least San Diego Padres baseball fans, got a jolt of excitement on Monday when free agent Bryce Harper took to his Instagram account and followed Manny Machado, who signed a 10-year, $300 million free agent contract with the Padres earlier in the week. Almost as soon as Machado was signed to the Padres, speculation began that the San Diego club, who finished with the fourth-worst record in Major League Baseball last year, would attempt to add Harper as well, as The Inquisitr reported.
With a payroll of only about $105 million, including Machado’s contract, the Padres appeared at least capable of inking Harper to a mega-deal as well, according to MLB Network reporter Jon Heyman. When Harper followed Machado — as well as Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, who signed an eight-year, $144 million deal with San Diego in the 2017-2018 offseason, as CBS Sports recounted — some Padres fans took to Twitter, giddy over what they saw as a signal by Harper that he intended to join Machado at Petco Park this season.
“Hey @Bharper3407, I’m very vulnerable right now. That follow on Instagram is killing me,” wrote one fan on Twitter.
But disappointment soon ensued, as Harper quickly unfollowed Machado, leading one Twitter user to lament that Harper’s online activity “doesn’t mean anything.”
— Jessie Burns ⚾️ (@jburnsey22) February 22, 2019
Just one week ago, Harper created another stir online, when he posted a comment on an Instagram post made by Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins, as The Inquisitr reported. Hoskins, who finished fourth in the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year balloting, per Baseball Reference, is also a client of super-agent Scott Boras, who represents Harper.
The Phillies have long been rumored to be a leading candidate to sign Harper, though, on Wednesday, the club’s general manager, Matt Klentak, appeared to back off of the quest for Harper, saying that his team had already “spent plenty of money” during the current offseason, as The Inquisitr reported.
On Friday, former Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said in an interview with Sirius XM MLB Network Radio that the chances the Padres will sign Harper after signing Machado are, in fact, “zero.”
Harper follows only 146 accounts on his Instagram page. In addition to Hosmer and Hoskins, they include Joel Embiid of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, Heisman Trophy-winning former Oklahoma University quarterback Kyler Murray, Boston Red Sox outfielder and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts, and retired English soccer star David Beckham.
Also last week, San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford followed Harper on Instagram, sparking more speculation as the Giants are also rumored to be preparing an offer to sign Harper. But Harper never followed Crawford back.