February 23, 2019
Just in case you weren't glued to Twitter last night like we were, let's get you caught up on the latest developments in the Bryce Harper saga. And yes, it truly is a saga with no shortage of dramatics.
First, the Phillies — as they have been — are still reported to be the favorites to sign Harper. Friday night, the Phillies ownership wasn't content with sitting and watching from the sidelines.
A source in Las Vegas tells me that Phillies owner John Middleton’s plane is on the ground in that city. Vegas is Bryce Harper’s home town. No other details, but talks clearly ongoing.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 23, 2019
This news was shortly after confirmed by MLB insider Jon Heyman, but it was clear from his reaction this was an unexpected development. With Manny Machado signing at $300 million, many believe Harper is gunning to eclipse that mark by some margin. The debate took off as to whether Harper was worth the money he is reportedly seeking, and whether Phillies' GM Matt Klentak would be willing to spend that much.
Team Bryce is in Las Vegas. Things are getting interesting https://t.co/ZhTGOeUBn6— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
So why exactly, is one of the Phillies' owners going to visit with Harper without Andy McPhail, the team's president, or Klentak, the team's GM? Is ownership looking to force the baseball operation's folks' hands? One can't help but be suspicious. Middleton, as reports say, will be flying back to Philadelphia with Harper. So, does that mean a deal is close?
Phillies owner John Middleton appears to be flying solo (or at least he’s at the Bryce Vegas meeting w/o MacPhail/Klentak). Phils have long felt like favorite, thanks to great park (esp for lefty sluggers), improving team and of course “stupid $.” JM obvs hoping to close deal.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
One has to ask, amid all this drama and the drawn out process, who exactly the Phillies are bidding against? It could simply be fact that no one has offered what the Harper camp truly wants and Klentak was waiting to see if the Phils offer would suffice once the season crept closer.
While Philly appears to be in strong position, word is there is no deal yet with Bryce, and no expectation he will be returning east with Phillies owner John Middleton. “Just a meeting,” is the official word. SF, SD, Wash, maybe 1 more still in the game to varying degrees.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
Saying a deal seems like it is close would kind of be crying wolf at this point. At several stages since November, the Phillies seemed close to reeling in their big fish, and every time it appeared neither Harper nor the Phillies were anywhere near making a deal.
This Middleton news makes a signing sound promising, but there is still no way to tell what the heck is actually going on.
Perhaps with games starting in Clearwater, things will happen this weekend. If they do, follow along here with our open thread/live stream to keep tabs on every development on what could be an important weekend for the Phillies:
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