The race for Bryce Harper has a new frontrunner.
After weeks with the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly in the driver's seat to land the 26-year-old outfielder, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surged into contention and are now considered the odds-on favorite to sign Harper. The sports betting website OddsShark on Wednesday released updated odds on where Harper will be playing in the upcoming season, and the Dodgers had surpassed the Phillies to take the lead, with the San Francisco Giants in a distant third. The Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, and Washington Nationals, all in contention for Harper at points this offseason, were off the board entirely.
The Sporting News also reported that the Dodgers, Phillies, and Nationals were the only teams left in the running for Harper. The report speculated that the Dodgers may have changed their gameplan, no longer offering a short-term deal for more money per season and instead dangling the long-term deal that Harper reportedly wanted.
"It is unclear if the Dodgers now are offering a 10-year deal. They originally were reported to only be interested in a short-term option, but since they are reportedly in the running, it could mean they are offering a long-term package," the report noted.
Henry Schulman, the Giants beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, also hinted that both the Dodgers and Giants were now offering long-term deals to Bryce Harper.Reports have indicated that the Dodgers were quietly increasing the stakes for Harper. While Phillies owner John Middleton paid a very public visit to Harper's home in Las Vegas last weekend. Jesse Sanchez of MLB Network reported, via Twitter, that the Dodgers also made a house call, albeit to much less fanfare.
The Giants are putting on some pressure as well, with a report from NBC Sports that the team's brass met with Harper on Tuesday, the second time that the two sides have come together while trying to hammer out a deal.
There had been reports several days ago that Bryce Harper was likely to make a decision by mid-week, but the resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers may have changed that. It is now unclear exactly when Harper plans to make his decision, or whether negotiations between the remaining teams is still active. USA Today had reported that Harper could be making his decision by the end of the week, but even that remains in question.