Bryce Harper finally picked a team on Thursday, reaching agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies on a 13-year deal for $330 million, per ESPN. The decision followed a months-long process in which Harper's free agent negotiations were closely followed on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
Much was reported about Harper's negotiations, by local baseball reporters, national baseball reporters, TV and radio hosts, Twitter gadflys, and many more sports world figures. Some of it was right, some of it was wrong, and some of it was almost certainly leaked by one party or another in order to gain various negotiation advantages.
A look at some of the many reports about Harper, between the end of last season and Harper's signing with the Phillies on Thursday:
November 3: Baseball's free agent signing period begins.
November 7: USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that five weeks earlier, on September 26, Harper had rejected a 10-year, $300 million contract offer from his then-team, the Washington Nationals. Nightengale also says that that offer was no longer on the table.
December 4: Jeff Passan, then of Yahoo Sports, reports that several teams had met with Harper in Las Vegas, including the Yankees, Phillies, and White Sox. Magic Johnson, the co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, denies a report that he was part of a Dodgers delegation that met with the player.
December 9: Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings begin in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas. Nightengale reports in USA Today that Harper meets with several teams, but does not agree to a deal.
January 2: Passan, who has since joined ESPN, reports that the Nationals, Phillies, and White Sox are all willing to offer Harper a "decade-plus-long deal."
January 4: Jim Bowden, an MLB Network personality, who is a former baseball general manager, reports that the Nationals' final offer to Harper in September was for "much more than the $300m being reported by the media."
January 13: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies had met with Harper in Las Vegas the previous day and that the meeting "went so well and they came away so impressed with Harper and his wife that they might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to him."
January 28: A gambling Twitter account called Vegas Gambling Steam reports that Harper "has agreed to multi year mega contract with Philadelphia Phillies," and that Vegas had taken all Harper-related prop bets off the board; no baseball reporter backs up either report. The video game MLB The Show, on its official Twitter account, tweets that "You'll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow... just saying," with a picture of Harper. This tweet is interpreted by some as a teaser of an imminent signing announcement, but it isn't.
February 11: Chris Russell, a radio host in Washington, says on Twitter that it was "decision week" for Harper, with the player holed up in Las Vegas with "no more meetings," and a decision expected before Valentine's Day.
February 12: Nightengale says, in a radio interview on KNBR in San Francisco, that Harper's choice is down to the Phillies and Giants.
February 15: Russell says in a radio interview on WIP that Harper has already made his decision, although he doesn't say which team he'd chosen. Harper leaves a comment on an Instagam post by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins. This is followed by hundreds of comments by fans urging Harper to join Hoskins with the Phillies.
February 16: Adding to the growing feeling that the Phillies are Harper's choice, Bowden says on a CBS Sports show that Harper and the Phillies "could be close to a deal."
February 17: Jon Heyman of Fancred reports on Twitter that Harper has "multiple" long-term offers from different teams, for $30 million a year. He added the Phillies remain the favorite.
February 18: Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post writes a column implying that some of Harper's teammates disapprove of his effort and leadership skills, and that the Nationals are happy with their team without Harper on it. Heyman reports, per The Inquisitr, that Harper's decision will likely take "several more days." Bowden says on CBS Sports Network that he expects Harper's ultimate deal to pass Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million contract to become the largest in baseball history.
February 19: Manny Machado, the other major offseason free agent, signs a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, per CBS Sports. Machado's signing leads to conflicting reports over whether the Padres are still in on Harper. Heyman says yes, while Nightengale says no.
February 20: ESPN's Buster Olney speculates, on his podcast, that Harper could earn as much as $400 million on his eventual deal. Both Olney and his guest, reporter Scott Miller, see the Phillies as the most likely team for Harper. Heyman tweets that Harper is "believed" to have rejected more than one $300 million offer. Zolecki on MLB.com says that he believes the Phillies are the only team willing to offer Harper more than $300 million.
February 21: Heyman tweets that the Phillies "seem like the favorite" for Harper, but that the Nationals "shouldn't be discounted."
February 22: Ted Lerner, the Nationals' owner, says in an interview with NBC Sports Washington that the Nationals have "moved on" from Harper. That night, per The Inquisitr, multiple reporters in Philadelphia report that Phillies owner John Middleton's private plane is in Las Vegas for a meeting with Harper. Heyman reports that the meeting is more of a "meet and greet" than an effort to close a final deal.
February 23: Nightengale reports on Twitter that Middleton is still in Las Vegas and the Phillies and Harper are in "deep and serious negotiations." Philadelphia reporter John Clark tweets later that night that Middleton's plane is headed back to the Phillies' spring training complex in Florida.