February 25, 2019
On Monday morning, after a weekend of nothing but positive news surrounding their team's chances to sign Bryce Harper, Phillies fans awoke Monday morning to news that the superstar free agent was meeting with the Dodgers, who hoped to persuade Harper to signing a shorter-term contract.
Sources: The Dodgers are back in the mix for Bryce Harper. Club officials, including manager Dave Roberts, were seen in Las Vegas on Sunday. https://t.co/cBRqZx4kOO— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 25, 2019
There are several problems with that. First, it's been reported by multiple people on multiple different occasions that Harper is not willing to sign a short-term contract. Second, the Dodgers appeared to be out of the bidding after a few key free agent signings earlier this winter. Even some pretty well-known baseball scribes — not to mention two guys who have been on the forefront of the Harper news — are skeptical of how interested Harper and his camp actually are in signing a shorter deal.
From the start, Bryce Harper has sought a decade-long-plus deal. There is no indication, sources said, that has changed. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have long been opposed to very long-term deals. Still, the Dodgers’ emergence has thrown a fascinating wrench into these negotiations.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 25, 2019
#Dodgers’ interest in Harper is short-term, sources tell The Athletic. After turning down #Nationals’ $300M, Boras/Harper obviously want to go long. If short-term is in play, other teams also might jump in. All hinges on whether #Phillies are willing to top $300M and close deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 25, 2019
[That's a great point by Rosenthal. If Harper is suddenly open to a shorter deal, wouldn't there presumably be several other teams interested in re-engaging? It's also worth mentioning that Los Angeles would surely exceed the luxury tax threshold if they sign Harper.]
Rosenthal also pointed out that the Dodgers would only have a shot if the Phillies are unwilling to go over the $300 million that Manny Machado received from the Padres. And given the Phillies desire to spend this winter, that seems like a number they'd definitely be able to meet.
"The Dodgers opportunity might exist if, and only if, the Phillies aren't willing to go over $300M for Harper."pic.twitter.com/O8sFn82W0L— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) February 25, 2019
But, most crucially, there's the gamesmanship. Isn't this exactly what you'd expect from Harper's agent, Scott Boras, if he was trying to get the Phillies to reach his client's asking price?
I have precisely zero sources in the Harper situation, but it seems to me if an agent wanted to extract a few more million per from the team offering a long-term deal, the exact play you'd dial up is negotiating an extremely high AAV short-term deal from another team.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 25, 2019
I'll give Boras credit where credit is due. He's been on some Machiavellian shit this winter and could come away with the biggest free agent contract ever for his client. Pulling a marquee team like the Dodgers back into negotiations by dangling a short-term deal, whether his client would actually sign it or not, is smart business. Following a weekend of reports that made it sound like the Phillies were far and away the favorites to land Harper, Boras needed to take back control of the narrative.
And he did that in a big way on Monday morning, sending the Phillies nation into a panic on the same day many believed the team might actually sign Harper.
Could it still happen? Is this just a last-ditch effort by Boras to get the Phillies to raise their offer? Or should the Phillies really be worried?
No matter what happens, we've got you covered with all the latest news and rumors surrounding the Phillies (and the Dodgers?) and Bryce Harper in our daily live updates post:
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