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February 27, 2019

Phillies appear to have fallen behind Dodgers (and now Giants) in Bryce Harper race

Plus, the Giants look ready to up offer for the free agent outfielder

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020819_Bryce-Harper_usat Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper rounds third and heads home.

UPDATE [2:20 p.m.] — Things may have just gone from bad to worse for the Phillies, who already this morning were seemingly trailing the Dodgers in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. First, there were reports that the Giants had landed a second meeting with Harper in Las Vegas, joining the Phillies and Dodgers as the latest to meet with the prized free agent for the second time.

Making matters worse for Phillies fans is that the Giants, who reportedly seemed unwilling to make a long-term offer, have now changed their minds, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. That essentially takes away the biggest advantage (a willingness to offer a long-term deal) the Phillies had over the Giants. 

The Giants and Harper’s team have discussed a 10-year deal, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned. That would match the deal the Padres gave Manny Machado earlier this month and likely give Harper a chance at the record dollar figure he has been looking for. ...

The Giants met with Harper in early February and were believed back then to be involved in case Harper sought a short-term deal that would keep him on the West Coast. The Dodgers are thought to be in the same situation. 

But the Giants, who met with Harper again Tuesday, per the San Jose Mercury News, are not afraid of a long-term deal. A year ago, ownership pushed hard for Giancarlo Stanton, and his contract runs through 2027.  [nbcsports.com]

Of course, rock group baseball insiders Smash Mouth told us all yesterday that this might happen... 

Seriously though, perhaps the most damning report is this, coming from former GM and analyst Steve Phillips, who paints a dire picture of the Phillies remaining offseason plans.

Should that come to pass, it would be, quite frankly, a disaster for the Phillies...


FROM EARLIER...

The race to land Bryce Harper has been a marathon, not a sprint. And for fans, it's felt more like an ultra marathon mixed with a Tough Mudder, full of obstacles and flying mud, and so long that you actually believe the finish line is right around the next corner, only to be disappointed at every turn. And, unfortunately, the Phillies appear to be falling behind as this thing heads down the home stretch.

The Phillies have been the favorites to land Harper nearly the entire offseason — just this past weekend, owner John Middleton took an impromptu flight to Vegas and it seemed like both sides were close — but as we close in on an actual deal, it appears the Phils have fallen behind the Dodgers. Even the Phillies are reportedly worried about the Dodgers, according to Jon Morosi.

And, given the news out of Colorado on Tuesday, things are looking worse than they have in a while for Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail. 

See, Nolan Arenado's monster contract extension with the Rockies didn't just raise the potential price tag for Harper, as he seeks to become the highest-paid player in sports, it also changed the way some teams are approaching this offseason — namely, the Dodgers, who had their sights set on signing the talented third baseman to a monster deal when he hit the open market next summer. Now, with that option gone, they're likely to ramp up their interest in Harper.

Had the Phillies been able to get a deal done earlier in the winter, this wouldn't have been an issue. Yet, here we are, with Harper's agent Scott Boras working these teams into a bidding frenzy that will almost certainly end up with his client inking the richest free agent deal ever.

Which team will wind up landing this winter prize free agent? Some oddsmakers, who had the Phillies listed as the favorites last time we checked, also now believe it's the Dodgers.

Hey, at least from those odds it looks like a two team race.


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