The drama surrounding free agent outfielder Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies’ attempts to reach a deal with the 26-year-old, six-time All Star appeared to be coming to a conclusion this weekend. As The Inquisitr noted, Philadelphia owner John Middleton personally flew to Harper’s Las Vegas home to negotiate with the superstar face-to-face.
Middleton reportedly departed Las Vegas without a deal in place, but multiple media reports stated that the agreement to bring Harper to Philadelphia would be wrapped up by Monday. Nonetheless, Jon Heyman, of the MLB Network, took to his Twitter account on Sunday morning to claim that though the Phillies may be the frontrunners on the Harper sweepstakes, “more teams” remained interested in signing Harper, and that the the 2015 National League MVP would continue to entertain suitors other than the Phillies during the week.
“There are said to be more teams for Team Bryce to meet with in Las Vegas,” Heyman wrote. “Philly has plenty going for them: improving team, engaged fan base, positive meetings, relationship with Middleton, dumb $. But derby continues.”
Or does it?
Other baseball experts — and Twitter users as well — simply were not buying Heyman’s claims that any team other than Philadelphia remained in the running for Harper’s services.
“All this has reinforced the notion that Heyman is acting as a mouthpiece for Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, to help drive the price up for Harper,” wrote Fansided Phillies columnist John Town.
Dude stop tweeting— Joe Esposito (@jespo134) February 24, 2019
Stop it, Jon.— Dom & Keith (@NotoriousCuz) February 24, 2019
Cuz... you are tweeting the exact same thing every day— Justin Elwell (@elwell_justin) February 24, 2019
Ur the only reporter that has talked about mystery teams in every single tweet u have put out there. Why?What % of the contract r u earning by trying to drive up the price and get teams to bid against themselves? Answer= 0, all this is getting u is 0 credibility with all fans— J Bones (@jbones8080) February 24, 2019
Town pointed to the work of one Twitter user, who identified no fewer than nine Heyman tweets in the past seven days in which the MLB Network reporter claimed that “multiple” teams were still actively pursuing Harper.
According to Town, Heyman could not plausibly point to a specific team alleged to be making an offer to Harper. He simply claimed that a “mystery team” had entered the Harper mix, and could swoop in with an unexpected offer. In a Twitter post on Friday, Heyman even reminded Phillies fans that a “mystery team” remained a realistic possibility, because, in the 2011 signing of starting pitcher Cliff Lee, the Phillies themselves were the “mystery team” that signed Lee when it was expected that the then-star would sign with the New York Yankees.
But citing unnamed “mystery teams” as a negotiating tactic has been a move often employed by Boras, according to the baseball blog Bullpen Videos.
The “mystery team” is “the 31st Major League Franchise that has no field, no stadium, no fans, no payroll, no ability to sign players, yet always influences the 30 real MLB teams,” when Boras decides to cite the “fake” mystery team in negotiations with teams interested in his free agent clients, wrote Joe Bandini of Bullpen Videos, in an analysis of Boras negotiating ploys back in 2014.