MLB Rumors: As Negotiations With Phillies Crawl, Bryce Harper Could Still Be Snagged By San Diego Padres

Bryce Harper celebrates a hit in the All Star Game.
Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Bryce Harper is now taking house calls from the Philadelphia Phillies, but there are new rumors that at least one more team could still be in the running.

Harper’s long free agency has stretched into spring training with no solid deal in sight, though the Phillies have been pegged as the frontrunner and on Friday paid a visit to Harper at his home in Las Vegas. A private jet belonging to Philadelphia owner John Middleton was seen traveling to Las Vegas, and the Sporting News reported that the two sides are engaging in more negotiations.

That doesn’t mean a deal is imminent, however. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the two sides were not expected to reach a deal on Friday, and that the meeting was more informal than some had initially thought.

“Barring something completely unexpected, Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies will not be consummating a deal tonight, league sources tell ESPN,” Passan reported. “Owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas for more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal, sources said.”

That could leave an opening for other teams to enter the fray, and there is at least one that could still have eyes on Harper. As MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman reported, the San Diego Padres are still in on Harper, even after having signed Manny Machado to a massive $300 million deal.

The Padres could be in a unique situation to sign Harper and become an immediate contender. The team has the money freed up to afford both Machado and Harper and their $300+ million contracts, and the multi-year rebuild has left the team with one of the top-rated farm systems in baseball. The Padres would be able to lock down both Harper and Machado and surround them with a core of young and cheap players. By the time the team’s up-and-coming group would be due for big contracts, Harper and Machado would be gone.

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The Phillies and Padres could be the last two teams standing for Bryce Harper. Reports this week noted that the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals are no longer in contention for Harper, and others have noted that the Padres are not nearly as serious as the Phillies. That could leave Philadelphia bidding against itself for Harper. The two sides are expected to continue meeting on Saturday in Las Vegas, though it is not clear if there is a new offer on the table for Harper.