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January 13, 2019

Live free agency updates: Phillies emerge as 'clear-cut favorite' to land Bryce Harper, per report

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010219_Bryce-Harper_usat Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

That Bryce Harper American flag sleeve is part of a larger Harper-to-Philly conspiracy.

UPDATE [1:45 p.m.] — According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Phillies have emerged as the "clear-cut favorite" to land Bryce Harper following their meeting with the free agent outfielder on Saturday. 

Here's more from Nightengale:

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of ongoing negotiations, but the Phillies have become the most aggressive team in their pursuit for Harper while the Nationals’ interest appears to be waning. Nationals executives are now calling a reunion with Harper a “long shot.’’

The Phillies, who also have interest in signing free-agent infielder Manny Machado, have yet to make an official offer to Harper, but are confident they will sign at least one of the two free-agent megastars. They were strongly encouraged about their chances of signing Harper after meeting with him, his wife and agent Scott Boras in Harper’s hometown. It was their first face-to-face meeting, which included two slide-show presentations by the Phillies. They are expected to make a formal offer within a week.  [usatoday.com]

Well, that's certainly something. Buckle up, Phillies fans. This could be an interesting week...


FROM EARLIER...

It's no surprise that the Phillies met with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper on Saturday in Las Vegas. What remains somewhat of a mystery, however, is just how well that meeting went. 

The Phils, who previously hosted fellow free agent Manny Machado for a visit at Citizens Bank Park, were the third team to meet with the former Nationals star this winter. And according to owner John Middleton, who was present at the meeting, along with general manager Matt Klentak, president Andy MacPhail, manager Gabe Kapler and others, it was a productive meeting for the two sides. 

But the real juice comes from Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who says the Phillies still believe they'll land one of the two big free agent prizes this winter, in part because they'll likely be offering up more money than any other team.

Here's a breakdown of Breen's report from MLBTradeRumors.com:

After conducting a face-to-face meeting in Las Vegas with free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper on Saturday, the Phillies “remain optimistic” they’ll emerge from the offseason having signed him or free-agent infielder Manny Machado, Matt Breen of Philly.com reports. At the very least, the Phillies will be finalists for both Harper and Machado, Breen adds.

The Phillies entered the winter with owner John Middleton declaring that money wouldn’t stand in the way of upgrading a team which has missed the playoffs seven years in a row. And signing either Harper or Machado has always stood out as the clearest path to improving the Phillies’ roster, as the two 26-year-old superstars are easily the premier players on the open market. Given both the Phillies’ financial might and their need for at least one of those players, it’s “likely” they’ll put forth the richest offers for both Harper and Machado, according to Breen.

If the Phillies are only able to pick one, it’d be Machado, whom they “seem to prefer,” Breen writes. However, the Phillies have “signaled” to him that they are also interested in Harper – a move that Breen posits could pressure Machado to accept an offer from them.  [mlbtraderumors.com]

Of course, would you really expect the Phillies to emerge from this meeting (or the one with Machado) saying it didn't go well? 

The only way we'll know for sure is when Machado or Harper sign on the dotted line and throw that red Phillies cap on for the first time. Until then, we'll continue to wait. And, as always, we'll have you covered with the latest free agency news and other MLB trade rumors right here in our live updates post.


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