If you’ve been away from the internet for the last 24 hours, you’ll want to catch up on the major free agent news that broke yesterday. If not, you can safely skip ahead to focusing on what’s next: the final stretch of bidding for Bryce Harper. Here’s the latest:
- The Phillies’ “total focus” right now is on Harper, Heyman tweets. Another free agent, such as Dallas Keuchel and/or Craig Kimbrel could become a target once Harper signs (be it in Philadelphia or elsewhere), but at the moment, the organization’s efforts are zeroed in on landing Harper.
- Todd Zolecki, Mark Feinsand and Jamal Collier of MLB.com write that the Phillies are wary of bidding against themselves and overpaying for Harper. Notably, the MLB.com trio cite multiple sources in reporting that the Nationals “have no plans to give Harper a mega-deal comparable to Machado’s 10-year, $300 million contract.” If that’s the case, then it’s not clear exactly who’d pose a threat to the Phillies at present, as the Giants’ interest in Harper has repeatedly been reported to be on a shorter term deal with a significant annual value. The report also cites two sources indicating that approximately $100MM of the Nationals’ initial 10-year, $300MM offer to Harper (issued back in September) would have been deferred. Certainly, ownership could still decide to step up and retain the face of the franchise, but the fact that the initial offer was well shy of $300MM in actual, present-day value because of those deferrals doesn’t bode well for the Nats now deciding to top $300MM. Machado’s deal reportedly contains no deferrals.
- Giants president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi didn’t speak with an increased urgency after the Padres landed Machado, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Specifically, Zaidi stated that he doesn’t think the Machado agreement “really changes how we’re viewing our team and what we might still do with it,” going on to emphasize the importance of making the “right decision” rather than acting “in a reactionary way.”
- Harper has recently rejected “multiple offers” of $300MM or more, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). All five teams listed below have been involved to some degree of late. This report certainly suggests that Harper won’t have trouble topping Machado’s final price tag, though it remains unclear just how high the money could go. The final bidding seemed to boost Machado’s ultimate earning level quite a bit, and it’s not hard to imagine a final run-up raising Harper’s contract price.
- The White Sox are “out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes,” according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). It had been fair to wonder whether the club would pivot to Harper after missing out on Manny Machado. Instead, though, it seems that ship has already sailed. Whether that’s because the bidding has already outstripped the South Siders’ spending levels or due to other considerations isn’t clear, but it seems Harper’s list of suitors is down at least one team. That said, Nightengale notes that the White Sox could still look into other free agents. He lists a few possibilities in the infield (Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison) and rotation (Gio Gonzalez), though it’s not really clear whether any of those players are particular targets for the White Sox.
- Unsurprisingly, the Giants are still involved in the hunt for Harper, per a report from Andy Martino of SNY.tv (Twitter links). The “sense” from Martino’s sources, it seems, is that the San Francisco organization has “a shot” at striking a deal while the Phillies face “a tough road” to land Harper — at least, that is, without going north of Giancarlo Stanton’s record-holding contract to do it. That’s an interesting characterization of the state of play, as there have been indications that the Giants are less than enthused about offering the kind of lengthy deal that Harper still seeks.
- Whether teams beyond the three listed in this post are involved on Harper is not entirely clear at this point. There are conflicting indications on the Padres, though it seems hard to imagine they’d end up landing both Harper and Machado. While the Nationals probably can’t be ruled out entirely until the ink is dry, there are indications that the club has moved on. Mystery teams have reportedly also been circling, though we haven’t heard any updates on that in some time.