The race for Bryce Harper could have a new team in the mix.
As negotiations between Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies drag on indefinitely, new rumors have emerged that the Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged as potential landing point. Jesse Sanchez of MLB Network reported, via Twitter, that the Dodgers made a very quiet visit to Las Vegas over the weekend to meet with Harper, apparently kick-starting negotiations at the same time that Phillies owner John Middleton was also paying Harper a home visit.
It was not clear just how serious the Dodgers might be about signing Bryce Harper, but Bustner Olney of ESPN offers a potential explanation in a tweet. He noted that the Dodgers — along with every other National League team potentially looking at Harper — would have the advantage of knowing that the National League is likely moving toward having the designated hitter in the coming years, which would give Harper significantly more value over a 10-year deal.
After the meeting, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that he held something of an informal discussion with Harper over the weekend.
“It was good, just trying to get to know each other,” Dave Roberts told reporters on Monday. “I think in the spirit of us, the Dodgers, vetting a certain process makes sense and for those guys to do their due diligence as well.”
Though there had been widespread reports over the weekend that Bryce Harper would make his final decision by Monday or Tuesday, USA Today is now reporting that his decision won’t come until the end of the week. That could favor new teams in the mix, as Harper has appeared reluctant to sign a long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and could be waiting for a better offer elsewhere. His alternatives would likely be a short-term deal with the Dodgers, or something intermediate with the San Francisco Giants.
The #Dodgers enter the mix, giving Bryce Harper the choice of getting long-term deal in $300 million range with #Phillies or going real short-term with #Dodgers or somewhere in between with #SFGiants. https://t.co/jrGFBcaODC
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 25, 2019
But if Harper is looking for the biggest payday, the Phillies may be the only option, USA Today noted. Other teams that could have offered more money — including the Chicago White Sox — have bowed out of the race. The San Diego Padres were reportedly still interested, but not able to offer a mega deal after already inking Manny Machado for $300 million.
Bryce Harper’s team haven’t given much indication as to which way he is leaning, but the All Star outfielder is apparently not letting the approach of opening day lead to any pressure to sign quickly. Reports have indicated that Harper is willing to wait for the right deal before signing, even if it means starting the season in free agency.