Yesterday, a report came out about Bryce Harper’s weekend meeting with the Phillies, how well it went, and how they are now the frontrunners to sign the 26-year-old stud outfielder.
It would not surprise me if the meeting went very well, and it would not surprise me if the Phillies were willing to over over-the-top money to land Harper at a time when they have the money, the need, the long-term market strength, and the obvious fit. But I was a little dubious of the report overall for this reason:
Interestingly, the Harper market in here is kinda framed as Phillies and no one else. https://t.co/7EBFF1o6nr
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 13, 2019
You can read the report for yourself, but the gist is that everybody’s more or less out on Harper except the Phillies, who have yet to actually make a formal offer. Given that the Manny Machado market has, at times, started to feel like everybody’s more or less out except the White Sox, sure, maybe it’s possible.
But are the Dodgers really not going to make a serious attempt to land Harper? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Braves? The Cardinals? Bueller? Is Scott Boras really going to get the Phillies to approach $300 million for Harper when there is – apparently – absolutely no market for his services at anything near that level (as crazy as that seems)?
I just … doubt it. I just doubt it. Doesn’t square.
And sure enough, this morning, Jim Duquette is basically screaming naaaaaaaah:
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 14, 2019
Duquette pretty clearly believes this Phillies-as-front-runner-and-only-serious-suitor bit is a ruse, presumably by Harper’s camp. If that were true, then the only logical conclusion would be that (1) there are other suitors seriously involved (Duquette believes it’s the Nationals, at a minimum), (2) Harper prefers them, and (3) they aren’t ponying up the money yet.
Which is more likely? That, or the Phillies are in a protracted set of negotiations – with no offer – when there are zero other serious suitors for Harper?
Given that it’s not likely the Phillies camp is going to putting out a rumor that they’re the front-runner for Harper*, it stands to reason that this whole thing coming from Scott Boras is more likely. Thus, I tend to think that of course there are still other interested teams, and of course Boras and Harper just want to rally the market a bit northward.
*(Caveat there, of course, is if the Phillies actually desperately want Manny Machado and they’re trying to apply pressure, saying, “Hey, we can sign only one of you two guys, and we’re leading on Harper, so … better hurry!”)