What does the late entrant of the Los Angeles Dodgers into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes mean for the player’s ultimate free agent destination? According to reporter Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Harper derby is down to a three-team race.
According to a video posted by Nightengale to USA Today’s Twitter account Monday morning, the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants are the only remaining teams in the running for Harper.
Nightengale states that Harper had a “surprise visitor” in Las Vegas Sunday night, as a contingent from the Dodgers visited him along with agent Scott Boras. Nightengale affirmed previous reporting that the Dodgers are only interested in a short-term contract with Harper, one that presumably would not be for more money than the 10-year, $300 million deal recently reached by the season’s other top free agent, Manny Machado, with the San Diego Padres.
“We all know that Harper would love to play for the Dodgers,” Nightengale said, noting that Los Angeles is very close to Las Vegas. The Phillies, though, will almost certainly have the top offer for Harper, a deal which would probably top Machado’s contract to become the largest ever for a free agent.
Nightengale added that the San Francisco Giants remain in the mix, but that “there is nobody else.” Previous suitors the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, and Washington Nationals are now out. The Giants have also been reported as wanting to give Harper a shorter-term deal.
“This thing should come to a head sometime in the next 48 to 72 hours,” Nightengale concluded.
Jesse Sanchez, a reporter for MLB.com, had reported early Monday morning that the Dodgers, a team not frequently mentioned previously as a Harper suitor, was in the running and had met with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, Sunday night in Las Vegas.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 25, 2019
This followed a weekend in which John Middleton, the owner of the Phillies, flew his private plane to Las Vegas Friday night in order to meet with Harper, and the meeting reportedly went well into the day on Saturday before Middleton returned to the Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida. Nightengale himself had reported Saturday night that Harper and the Phillies were in “deep and serious negotiations,” per The Inquisitr.
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) February 25, 2019
The Phillies have been considered the favorite for Harper for at least the last month, although the team has not yet closed the deal with the 26-year-old slugger, even with multiple meetings. Phillies fans appear eager for Harper to come into the fold, with a “COME HOME HARPER” banner unfurled at an outdoor hockey game in Philadelphia Saturday night, per reporter John Clark on Twitter.