The San Diego Padres are feeling frisky.
After showing a strong interest in free agent infielder Manny Machado, the team is reportedly meeting with Bryce Harper.
You know, OUR Bryce Harper.
Harper and/or his agent, Scott Boras, have met with a number of clubs in recent days, including second and third meetings in some cases, sources say. No indication a deal is close. https://t.co/LQgI9jceJD— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2019
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi indicated there are now four legitimate suitors for Harper’s services, still unsigned as of January 31.
Bryce Harper has four active suitors as February nears, source confirms: #Nationals, #Phillies, #WhiteSox, and now #Padres. At least one other team remains involved on periphery, but overwhelming likelihood is he will sign with one of those four clubs. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 31, 2019
In an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s morning show on Wednesday, general manager Matt Klentak indicated the team is comfortable with where they are right now in the process.
“There’s been a flurry of guys signing, the free agent market is steadily coming along, a lot of guys signed in spring training last year, I don’t know if this is the new norm but we’re adjusting to the market” - Matt Klentak— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) January 30, 2019
“We were pretty open & public about our meetings with Machado & Harper. Both were really good meetings. Two good days with those guys & there’s on going dialogue with their reps & I’m sure they’re talking with other teams as well” - Matt Klentak— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) January 30, 2019
“We put a very strong foot forward with both of these, I feel really good about our pitches. We know both agents very well, the communication has been good so far.” - Matt Klentak— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) January 30, 2019
While it is assumed the Phillies will land one of Harper or Machado, this meeting by the Padres displays the inherent danger of waiting too long to make a final deal. The longer this plays out, the longer other teams have to read the market and swoop in at the last minute with a deal that may tempt one or the other to take it.
Of course, it’s impossible to believe the agents for Harper and Machado would accept any deal with a team like the Padres without circling back to the Phils, and San Diego’s interest could be nothing more than a check-in to see if Harper can be swayed by the sunshine of their fair city with a smaller contract than he initially sought.
Remember, the Phils have the ability to outbid everyone. No matter how many teams meet with Harper, the Phillies can outbid the field if they so choose. But given the lack of solid information we have on this whole process, it’s impossible to know what the Phillies have already offered to Machado or Harper, or even if an offer has been made to Harper.
At the end of the day, were the Phils to lose out on either player, it likely means they would go all-in on the other. And ESPN’s Jeff Passan said on SportsCenter Thursday afternoon that both players would like to get a deal done before the start of spring training, so perhaps this never-ending saga is about to end.
Regardless, another team has jumped into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, and even if the odds of him landing there are remote, the longer this whole situation plays out, the greater the possibility the Phillies will lose out on the slugging free agent outfielder.
On Episode 253 of “Hittin’ Season,” NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman joins the show to talk about this issue and about the state of the NL East heading into the season, and Matt Winkelman from PhilliesMinorThoughts.com stops by to go over his Top 50 Phillies Prospects list, out this week.
Click the player below to stream it here, or subscribe to The Good Phight podcast feed by using one of the icons inside the player!