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January 14, 2019

Live free agency updates: Phillies shift focus to Bryce Harper; White Sox offer Machado eight-year deal

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011419_Bryce-Harper_usat Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports

Free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.

On Sunday, a day after the two sides met in Las Vegas, a report came out that the Phillies are the "clear-cut favorite" to sign free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. This comes after months of the Phillies reportedly having their sites set on infielder Manny Machado as their top offseason target. 

So why the change in heart? Todd Zolecki of MLB.com has the latest...

Two sources told MLB.com on Sunday that the Phillies' presentation and meeting went well. So well, in fact, that the Phillies might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to Harper, although it is unknown if the club made a formal contract offer to Harper before leaving town. The Phillies' contingent consisted of managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, manager Gabe Kapler and assistant general manager Ned Rice. The same group, plus others, made a similar pitch to Machado late last month at Citizens Bank Park.

Machado has a formal offer on the table....

Machado has been the Phillies' No. 1 choice since the beginning of the offseason because of his combination of offense and elite defense at third base, while Harper has been the people's choice because of his offensive prowess and immense star power. Of course, Saturday's developments do not mean the Phillies will not sign Machado. They still might. Negotiations, good or bad, can change quickly with one text or phone call. But one source said the Phillies left Vegas remarkably impressed with Harper and his wife.  [mlb.com]

The timing of this is interesting, given that Machado now has that formal offer from the Chicago White Sox, the Phillies' biggest competition in acquiring the infielder's services. According to ESPN.com's Jeff Passan, the White Sox's offer is for eight years, two years less than what Machado is said to be seeking. There's also reportedly a mystery team in on Machado as well. 

Still, Passan says the Phillies are in an interesting spot when it comes to signing Machado or (and?) Harper.

As the sweepstakes for baseball's best free agents heats up, Manny Machado is sitting on an eight-year offer from the Chicago White Sox and is still engaged with the Philadelphia Phillies, while their pursuit of Bryce Harper grew stronger with an in-person meeting in Las Vegas over the weekend, league sources told ESPN.

The Phillies, as anticipated, could serve as the fulcrum for where two of the most talented free agents in a generation wind up, according to sources. Although a USA Today report deemed Philadelphia a "clear-cut favorite" to sign Harper, the Washington Nationals remain a possible landing spot for the 26-year-old outfielder, according to sources.

Philadelphia remains in the hunt for Machado, a 26-year-old shortstop/third baseman, and along with the White Sox, they've been told a third team is involved, according to sources. The White Sox have shown significant interest in Harper -- they met him in Las Vegas, his hometown, before the new year -- as well as Machado.  [espn.com]

It's getting close, people. I swear. Stay tuned for the latest on Harper, Machado and the rest of the baseball world with our live MLB free agency updates: 


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