Bryce Harper is a Phillie. It actually happened.
The face of Major League Baseball will have a Phils jersey underneath it for the next decade and after months of waiting, Philadelphia can finally experience pure joy again.
Folks, this is one of the greatest days in franchise history, and it was a crazy journey to get here. For those of us who couldn’t tear away ourselves from our Tweetdeck and social media accounts throughout the winter, it was a time of hope, followed by patience, followed by a lot of impatience, followed by a solid month of insanity.
We’re happy, but exhausted. Let’s take a look at how we got there, told exclusively through social media and the reporters/insiders/fans/unhinged masses that held your hand and, on many occasions, squeezed it way too hard, during this process.
When the off-season started, many assumed the Phillies would target Manny Machado instead of Harper, as evidenced by these predictions below.
Credit Buster for sniffing out the Giants as a suitor early, I suppose.
Column: The team that's a perfect fit for Bryce Harper. https://t.co/RML01JRpGZ— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 4, 2018
The Nats made a play, but struck out.
The Washington #Nats made a mega offer to Bryce Harper on the last day of the season, which was rejected, and negotiations have yet to resume as other teams now in the derby.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 6, 2018
The Washington #Nats say that their $300 million offer to Bryce Harper is no longer on the table although it doesn’t preclude talks from resuming before they make financial outlay for others. https://t.co/HTWNhZWKjz— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 7, 2018
#Nationals surely knew Harper and Scott Boras would never accept $300M without opt-outs as first offer. Nats could still be fallback if Harper does not get what he wants - if they are willing to wait. Bar now set for other interested teams. Harper goal: Beat Stanton’s $325M. https://t.co/kbeFlpXfDO— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2018
The Yankees buzz just never got going.
As there continues to be speculation about Bryce Harper and the Yankees, a well-placed source emphatically says: “It’s not happening. He’s not going to be a Yankee.”— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 7, 2018
And agent Scott Boras held court and tried to be poetic. It didn’t work.
Scott Boras: "Harper's Bazaar has begun. It's fashionable,historical,elite and global. For an owner to know the rocket ship of economic opportunity is just blasting off because the player is just entering the prime of his career, you’re talking about a unique and rare opportunity— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) November 8, 2018
Bob was feelin’ it, kids.
Ah yes, the “STUPID MONEY” quote. This essentially required the Phils to add one of Macharper at this point.
Harper at first? he he he
#Yankees have had internal discussions this offseason about possibility of signing Bryce Harper to play first base, but one source described that scenario as "unrealistic" -- at least, for now. Full story: https://t.co/eT7SMNRAI8 @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 20, 2018
This gave everyone a fun, fuzzy feeling for a few days.
ICYMI (while you were eating turkey) The heck with Harper & Machado. The #Phillies are in position to unite Bryce Harper & Mike Trout someday. It isn't likely. And there would have to be about a billion dollars involved. But is it crazy? Ask John Middleton https://t.co/DL5ij0Z60Y— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 26, 2018
And as November ended, most believed it was going to be Machado going to the Phils and not Harper.
Baseball execs are baseball fans at heart, and they wonder, too, about where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign. Most common guesses -- informed speculation -- that I've heard from folks within the game: Machado to the Phillies, Harper back to the Nationals.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 29, 2018
The #Phillies say they’re still interested in signing Manny Machado to play third, as well as Bryce Harper in the outfield and Patrick Corbin on the mound. Hey, it’s only money, right?— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2018
Bob routinely brought the crazy sauce. Jeff, meanwhile, bummed us out with all this White Sox stuff.
The Chicago White Sox's interest in Bryce Harper is either very real or they're putting a lot of effort into something that isn't, because they enlisted Hall of Famer Jim Thome to go to Las Vegas and meet with Harper, sources tell Yahoo Sports. News: https://t.co/AfeLtkcxtK— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2018
At this point, odd-makers differed from the general feeling that the team was targeting Machado and had the Phils as favorites for Harper.
Updated odds for what team Bryce Harper will be on for the first game of the 2019 MLB regular season (@betmybookie):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) December 5, 2018
The Nationals, rebuffed by Harper, decided to go in a wholly different direction and nabbed Patrick Corbin out from under the Phillies’ and Yankees’ noses. It also meant they probably weren’t going to come back to Harper later on.
Does Corbin joining Nats signal end of Harper's time in D.C.? https://t.co/B464V7cIDt— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2018
Meanwhile, Bryce was living his life.
Harper to the Winnipeg Jets, confirmed!— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2018
It was around this time rumors circulated that the Dodgers were looking to trade their glut of outfielders, with the assumption they would then target Harper.
Considering the #Dodgers are letting teams know that Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson are available, if they're able to move one or two of the outfielders, they'll certainly have plenty of room for Bryce Harper.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 10, 2018
Finally, the Winter Meetings began, and while the Phils met with Harper’s agent in Las Vegas, there was no face-to-face meeting with Bryce.
Not surprising at all, but the Phillies and Team Boras are working out a time to meet here in Vegas. Phillies maintain interest in Zach Britton and Bryce Harper, though at the moment seem to be more on Manny Machado than Harper— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) December 10, 2018
Bryce Harper Las Vegas rundown: He’s met with several teams here off site in his hometown. And has a few more to go. Also, a “mystery owner” has flown in to visit with him.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2018
Sigh. Mystery teams. eye roll emoji
Despite not landing Harper, the Phils did make some news by trading for Jean Segura and surprisingly signing Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal.
Fun with possible lineups, PHI style... If the Phillies landed Harper:— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2018
Hey, that WAS fun, Buster!
The Washington #Nats offer to Bryce Harper at end of season was worth $284 million over 10 years when factoring in the deferred money.. #Whitesox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has had two phone conversations with agent Scott Boras but no offers yet submitted. https://t.co/AzuNdQV0gK— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 13, 2018
Column: $400 million? Harper, Machado might have to settle for less https://t.co/Y0iZUxMWUh— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 18, 2018
Uh, yeah. That $400 million... didn’t happen, obvs.
Eventually, the Dodgers pulled the trigger and everyone in Philadelphia panicked.
Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood have been traded to the Cincinnati Reds, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. Homer Bailey is one of the players going back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The return for the Dodgers clearly will be more.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 21, 2018
The Dodgers are experts at baseball money-laundering. They have cleared the slate for Harper, if they can work it out:— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 21, 2018
For those shipping the Dodgers and Bryce Harper: After the trade, the Dodgers' luxury-tax payroll is going to be more than $180M, including the money they're sending to Cincinnati. If they want to stay under, Harper isn't happening. If that's not a concern, it's a possibility.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 21, 2018
Updated odds to sign Bryce Harper (@betonline_ag):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) December 22, 2018
White Sox +500
By now, we’re looking at our watches and noticing it’s getting kind of late in the off-season to still be so close to the starting line.
It's Jan. 7 -- and 4 of the top 5 free agents ranked by @JimBowdenGM in @TheAthleticMLB still haven't signed:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 7, 2019
Overall, 9 of the top 19 haven't signed -- and 17 of his top 35.
Here's his original column https://t.co/Th1E8vorbv
It seemed like there were 10 or 20 false indicators like this.
At one point, a freaking video game started messing with us. A VIDEO GAME.
There are several GMs who believe that even if the #Phillies sign Harper or Machado, they will be aggressive in the market for Keuchel and Kimbrel.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 11, 2019
Eventually, finally, the Phillies flew across the country to meet with Harper face-to-face in Vegas.
Day 74: The Harper/Machado mind games continue, and the Phillies have gained a position of strength by waiting. They'll probably wait some more. The latest, with @Ken_Rosenthal and @jaysonst: https://t.co/mB3Asj73Ot— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) January 15, 2019
Bob, apparently impatient with the slog of the off-season, decided to try to will Bryce Harper to the Phils. Machado, by this point, had become an afterthought.
The #Phillies will have Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or possibly both in uniform on opening day— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 16, 2019
The #Phillies, according to team executives, have visions of signing Harper,— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 15, 2019
Keuchel and Kimbrel.
We haven’t seen much of Heyman up to this point here, but you’re going to see a lot of him moving forward. Whether any news was actually delivered, well, you be the judge.
Felt like Machado was Phils’ top choice at one time. Now it seems like it’s even or maybe a lean toward Harper. That 4/5 hour, 2 video meeting in Las Vegas sounds like it went great for Harper and the Phillies, who are expected to make offer to him soon, if they haven’t by now.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2019
Word is, Harper and Kapler really hit it off during the Las Vegas meeting, which could be another factor in Phillies’ thinking. Easy to see that: both quite intense— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 16, 2019
A recap of what I said on @975TheFanatic:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 16, 2019
*#Phillies most likely to end up signing Harper b/c more teams on Manny
*Speculation from other clubs is Phil might be only team really in on Harper
*It could last till Feb b/c Phil convinced there aren't multiple teams to outspend them
And now the Phils were slightly behind the Nationals (???) as favorites to sign Harper. Vegas and off-shore books are so weird. It’s just one of the reasons I don’t gamble on sports.
Updated odds for which team Bryce Harper will be on the first game of the 2019 MLB regular season (BetDSI):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) January 19, 2019
White Sox +400
Now, the White Sox are back in the conversation? Oh boy.
The Chicago #Whitesox emphasized their valued prospects in their recruitment of free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, believing they will be a serious playoff contender by 2020. Well, per @baseballpro, they have four of baseball’s top 26 prospects and six of the top 76.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 23, 2019
Hey so all those worries about the Dodgers swooping in and landing a generational talent, no worries kids, they got A.J. Pollock. Gotta avoid that luxury tax, you know.
"The Phillies, without doubt, would offer Harper a good deal of money. They want him. They’ve sweet-talked him for hours in Vegas. They’ve bragged about the “stupid” amount of money they’d offer him. But why should they make an opening bid when there are no other active bidders" https://t.co/vGxaiDtD6m— John Stolnis (@JohnStolnis) January 25, 2019
Three weeks remain until position players report to spring training and little has changed the last month. The #Phillies still are the heavy favorites for Harper and the #Whitesox for Machado while everyone awaits to see who blinks first on the final pricetag.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 28, 2019
There was one day in January when we saw Phillies-themed fungo bats made for Bryce Harper by a Pennsylvania-based company splashed online, and there were rumors the team was going to hold a news conference announcing he had signed.
Unfortunately, it was another let-down, and our collective sanity began to wane.
phillies are interested and in on bryce harper. but rumors of him signing today in philly are unfounded.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 29, 2019
Despite all the rumors bouncing around, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado came into today no closer to signing with a team than they’ve been since Nov. 1. Joined @RB_Mrs and @RandyScottESPN on @SportsCenter this morning and compared it all to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. pic.twitter.com/bcJo3t9Ib2— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 29, 2019
Meanwhile, a few days later, the San Diego Padres smelled blood in the water and tried to play shark.
#Padres officials meeting today or tomorrow with Bryce Harper in Las Vegas, sources tell The Athletic. Meeting expected to include ownership representatives.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2019
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
February began with the Phils in the driver’s seat to land either Harper or Machado. And yet, it all still felt so far away.
Even with weeks going by and more teams checking in on the two mega star free agents — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — the Phillies still believe they will land one of the 2 superstars. They do have financial clout. #stupidmoney— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 3, 2019
Hear at least 8 teams are still checking in on Harper, though at least a couple/few of them are likely thinking short-term— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 4, 2019
According to multiple sources there are indeed “mystery” team(s) in on Bryce Harper that the public is not aware of…and as many texts/emails & phone calls I’ve made…I still can’t find them…..#Braves ? #Cardinals ? #Astros ? #Giants ? #Angels ? #Yankees ? #BlueJays ? I give up— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) February 4, 2019
J.T. REALMUTO TRADE
The Phils did have a big day earlier this month, trading for the best catcher in the game, J.T. Realmuto, and making themselves look a whole lot better to Harper in the process.
The Realmuto deal is done.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 7, 2019
Harper remains a clear target for the Phillies.
And this lineup, with Cesar Hernandez and his career .360 on-base percentage at the bottom?
The NL East is going to be a glorious bloodbath this season. https://t.co/fw4vrjf8Zb
Philadelphia #Phillies GM Matt Klentak, when asked if the JT Realmuto acquisition will have any impact on a certain couple of free agents: "This doesn’t take us out of the free-agent market by any stretch.'' #Harper #Machado— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 7, 2019
At @baseballpro they've updated the projected PECOTA standings to factor in the Realmuto deal, bumping the #Phillies from 84 wins to 86.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 8, 2019
They project Bryce Harper as a 4-win upgrade over Nick Williams & Manny Machado as a 3-win upgrade over Maikel Francohttps://t.co/8TLWzbwYHD
But then, a few days later, the San Francisco Giants met with Harper, and we had to hear a solid week of stories talking about how much Harper loves the city of San Francisco. Never mind the fit with the Giants was completely wrong for him.
Seems to be a lot of positivity surrounding the Harper-Giants meeting. Doesn’t mean they will prevail in this derby, but the Giants, who assured the Harper camp of their seriousness pre meeting, were said to have been very impressed by the Harpers.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 10, 2019
The #SFGiants are quite serious about Bryce Harper as late entrants into the free-agent frenzy, but its unknown whether they would offer a long-term deal instead of their plan for a short-term contract. https://t.co/5gzD5fjYcz— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 10, 2019
So wait, they’re “quite serious” about him, but...
Anyway, it was enough to get the odds-makers moving numbers around.
Updated odds for which team Bryce Harper will sign with (BetOnline):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 11, 2019
Nationals +1000 pic.twitter.com/kSef2YIQza
Buster Posey just makes everyone feel good. It’s really that simple.
There continues to be skepticism among some of the folks involved in the Giants/Harper conversation that San Francisco would generate the kind of offer that would sway the slugger. More smoke than fire at this point, in eyes of some involved.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 12, 2019
Buster, the voice of reason.
At this point, pitchers and catchers had reported to Clearwater, and some fans decided a little self-sacrifice was necessary in order to lure Harper to Philadelphia.
The Phils opened camp happy with their squad, but also gently made it clear they hoped not to be done adding to the roster.
Matt Klentak would like the Phillies' "excellent" offseason to get better. He'll remain patient on Machado and Harperhttps://t.co/pM9ZSBxETZ— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 14, 2019
Everyone got all worked up when some Redskins “insider” from 106.7 The Fan in DC decided to try and be a baseball insider for a week and, in the process, made a name for himself by peddling bad information.
It is Feb. 15. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain free agents. Amid all the fake rumors, stupid tweets and red herrings, I tried to answer a very simple question: Why?— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 15, 2019
That and much, much more in a column that has 10 items and could use a new name: https://t.co/ZjF1xWag73 pic.twitter.com/bhdAcP0YFU
And then Harper started trolling us. IS THIS A SIGN???
Over the weekend of February 16-17, things got really nuts.
Phillies and Bryce Harper “pretty well down the process here” pic.twitter.com/DhmHiZ0KXm— 2008 Phillies (@2008Philz) February 16, 2019
Bowden said it appeared the Phillies and Harper were “rounding third and heading for home” in the negotiations.
Weird how Bryce Harper did not sign a deal within an arbitrarily-assigned 24-hour period for the 5th consecutive time this offseason— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) February 16, 2019
Meanwhile, Nats players, fans and writers were talking themselves into Bryce Harper being the PROBLEM in Washington, the thing that held the team BACK.
My col: After impressive winter revamp in face of major free agent loses, Nats focus on basics they never should've neglected: pitching, defense, fundamentals, accountability, vet leaders. Can culture compensate for clout? https://t.co/enUroSSxDp— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) February 16, 2019
A former MLB executive tweeted out a “rumor” he saw tweeted by a fake account.
This tweet, in a nutshell, summed up the 2018-19 MLB off-season.
Rumors spreading that Harper will be a Phillie for 10 years and 310 million. Boras gets bailed out again by an owner. Still doesn’t beat Stanton, but will certainly beat Machado. Like saving half a face for the player and the agent. Now, back to your regularly scheduled rumors.— David P. Samson (@DavidPSamson) February 17, 2019
Things are heating up with Harper. Intensified is the word I heard. Phillies are the favorite, but word remains that nothing’s done yet. Will be a long-term deal.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 17, 2019
Harper talks with Phillies appear to be intensifying, but no word anything’s done and to this point it seems other interested teams haven’t been told they are out. That includes Padres, Nats, Giants, Chisox, multiple mystery teams.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 17, 2019
Padres remain hopeful to land one of the two big fish (Manny seems more likely, with Harper/Phillies heating up). Chisox plus mystery teams the main competition assuming Phils get their top target.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 17, 2019
As things heat up, hear Harper is talking to other teams beyond Philly, and Philly is still talking to both Harper and Machado. Feels like Philly-Harper is the most likely match at this point tho.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 17, 2019
Bryce Harper, who has been waiting for someone to meet his price, appears to have found that team in the #Phillies. There is no deal yet but he will ultimately receive more than the 10-year, $300 million contract he turned down from the #Nats in September.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 17, 2019
@Bharper3407 are you more interested in money or playing for a good team and organization? If it’s about money I think that motivation doesn’t show me your desire to win. You know the #phillies are good organization and team so what’s the issue and holdup. So it is about money!— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) February 17, 2019
Yes, shaming Harper into signing in Philadelphia is absolutely going to work. Good thinking.
Did I mention Phils fans tracked a private plane flying from Vegas to Clearwater, too? Yep, we did that.
Either this private jet that flew from Las Vegas to Clearwater today has something to do with Bryce Harper and the Phillies or it has absolutely nothing to do with them at all. pic.twitter.com/5SaislbWgn— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) February 17, 2019
With several teams, Harper derby may take a few or even several more days. Besides favored Phillies there are at least the Giants, Padres, White Sox and perhaps incumbent Nats. Wash hasn’t been at forefront but could come late. Rumor they have right to match at end is untrue tho.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 18, 2019
Obviously, Vegas felt pretty good about the Phils landing Harper, having them tied for 2nd among NL teams to win the pennant.
Odds to win the National League pennant:— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 18, 2019
And Bowden, undettered, firmly believed Harper was going to get that record-setting contract from the Phillies. He wasn’t wrong.
MANNY MACHADO SIGNS WITH PADRES
Then, like a shot out of the dark, one of the two free agent shoes finally hit the floor. Machado was a Padre.
Manny Machado's deal, as @Feinsand first reported, is for 10 years and $300 million with an opt-out after the fifth season.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 19, 2019
A monumental deal -- the single biggest free agent contract in American sports history.
And now every eye in baseball turns to Bryce Harper. His move.
So now we knew the absolute floor in place for any Harper deal with the Phils. At least 10 years and more than $300 million. This is when most of Philadelphia collectively felt like they were going to throw up. It also provided the perfect opportunity for New York-based reporters to get in their last licks throwing cold water on Harper coming to Philadelphia.
Heard the same thing reiterated from a different source. Harper said to be reluctant to go to Philly. If they can get to $326 mil -- beating Stanton's deal, that could overrule his doubts. https://t.co/YgnIsprkMx— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 19, 2019
Well, not all New York reporters...
Machado signed for what #Nationals offered Harper in last week of the reg season — albeit with deferrals. I would suspect Harper is going to beat this still with belief #Phillies remain most likely destination— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 19, 2019
I mean, how can you not love Scott Boras?
Padres are pulling off one surprise (once Manny’s finalized) but here’s another shocker : they aren’t ruling out Bryce Harper, too. 110M payroll (with MM) is still lower than most.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 19, 2019
This made us feel better.
Then, Matt Klentak opened his mouth and uttered a tone-deaf statement he would have had to live down had things not gone the Phils’ way.
#Phillies had idea of where market was heading for Machado, according to Matt Klentak, but had walkaway point. "We were willing to get aggressive on this, and if the reports are true, this contract will exceed our valuation. Sometimes you have to be willing to walk away."— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) February 19, 2019
Klentak wasn’t done.
Predictably the city went nuts, especially because it now felt a Harper decisions was truly close. And the numbers started going up in the minds of some.
"It would not shock me if when its first leaked out through one of Scott's guys in the media, Harper's deal is going to have the number '4' in it... I still think the Phillies get him."— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) February 20, 2019
$400 million after refusing to go to $300 million for Machado? Hmmmmm.
️@jonmorosi: "The Bryce Harper signing is gonna break about three minutes before the Manny Machado press conference happens, and I think it'll be with Philadelphia."@howaboutafresca & @SwollenDome. https://t.co/lXtT3WgCe0— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) February 20, 2019
It’s unclear how big a contract Giants will/have offered to Bryce Harper, but hearing a continued sense today that they have a shot at him and Phillies have a tough road to get it done— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 20, 2019
And if one thought the White Sox might make a play for Harper after missing out on Machado, those thoughts were quickly doused.
The Chicago #WhiteSox, who are out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, still plan to make some smaller improvements to team after Manny Machado chose the #Padres. Versatile infielders Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison, along with starter Gio Gonzalez, still on the free-agent board.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 20, 2019
Bryce Harper is believed to have turned down multiple offers over 300M in recent weeks. at least 5 teams are believed still in contact, tho Philly, SF and perhaps Wash appear to have more chance than SD (just gave 300M to Manny) and CWS (seemed more focused on MM)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 20, 2019
The #SFGiants are telling people they are trying hard for Harper (this likely debunks the short-term theory for them, as it’s known Harper isn’t signing short-term deal). However, people who have spoken to SF brass said they aren’t necessarily overly optimistic.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 20, 2019
If the Nats have no plans to make a Manny Machado-sized offer to Bryce Harper (sources say they currently do not), then who are the #Phillies really competing against? They are asking themselves that question as they move pursue Harper. https://t.co/fgulRZ0yuq— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) February 20, 2019
So in one day, the Padres, White Sox and Nats all appeared to say they were out, and the Giants were only apparently willing to do a lucrative, short-term deal.
just gonna listen to this on repeat pic.twitter.com/YWUjwG0qm9— chris jones ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONGER_DRIVE) February 21, 2019
"I've heard the reports and the rumble that [Harper] doesn't want to play in Philadelphia. I've asked people very very close to him if that is true and they say it is not true." - @JSalisburyNBCS on with @WIPMiddayShow— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) February 21, 2019
It was at about this point that Jon Heyman officially lost his faculties.
Jon Heyman on WFAN: "I've heard from a number of people that don't talk to Scott Boras that (Bryce Harper) is not that enamored with Philly... he's been there enough to have an impression... Philly is an acquired taste... Philly would not be near his top choice."— Ben Livingston (@bliv94) February 21, 2019
Phillies' total focus right now is on bryce harper. after harper signs (either with them or elsewhere), philly will consider dallas keuchel and/or craig kimbrel. one person thought keuchel's more likely since the pen is solid with robertson is aboard, but it could be either guy.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2019
While Phillies seem like favorite for Bryce (and may well be), incumbent Nats shouldn’t be discounted. While Nats have spent good $ (Corbin, Dozier, Suzuki, etc.) and once seemed ready to move on, they love BH, and final call will be Ted Lerner’s, who signed Scherzer in surprise.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2019
If the #SFGiants got the meeting and are still in, they surely showed a willingness to go long and aren’t adhering to that short-term theory. It’s a great city and great org, but they are “in transition” and Oracle is the toughest in MLB for a lefty slugger. Those are hurdles.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2019
On February 22, the Nats officially bowed out.
Martino’s quest to squash any Harper-to-Philly momentum was really quite impressive, right to the end.
Not buying Nationals as out on Harper until the moment he signs elsewhere. More on that situation on DNL and BNNY, 5pm and 6pm— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 22, 2019
Yeah, sure, the owner was flat-out lying.
But now, there was confusion as to whether the Padres were out... or back in again.
Padres brass is meeting today to see if they can try for a 2nd mega star. Probably still a long shot but give them credit for brass you know whats https://t.co/vWWpCrVtt8— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 22, 2019
"The chances of the Padres signing Bryce Harper is zero."pic.twitter.com/Zg9fQbHRe7— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) February 22, 2019
MIDDLETON’S VEGAS ADVENTURE
On a Friday night, without warning, came the tweets that excited the Philadelphia fanbase beyond words.
A source in Las Vegas tells me that Phillies owner John Middleton’s plane is on the ground in that city. Vegas is Bryce Harper’s home town. No other details, but talks clearly ongoing.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 23, 2019
Speculation that this may all be near an end began to run rampant through the baseball Twitterverse.
The biggest question no longer seems to be whether Bryce Harper will ultimately sign with the Philadelphia #Phillies, but just how big of a check John Middleton will be writing.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 23, 2019
But it soon became clear Bryce Harper would not be a Phillie right away.
Barring something completely unexpected, Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies will not be consummating a deal tonight, league sources tell ESPN. Owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas for more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal, sources said.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 23, 2019
While Philly appears to be in strong position, word is there is no deal yet with Bryce, and no expectation he will be returning east with Phillies owner John Middleton. “Just a meeting,” is the official word. SF, SD, Wash, maybe 1 more still in the game to varying degrees.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
Then, conflicting reports began to emerge.
While Phillies are seen as the favorite (and may well be), team Harper has been negotiating in Vegas with two teams who were there to see Bryce today, “with more to follow”— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 24, 2019
Philadelphia #Phillies owner John Middleton still in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper negotiations and optimism now is that 10-year deal with Bryce Harper is finalized by Monday afternoon.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 24, 2019
The #Phillies are in deep and serious negotiations with Bryce Harper. Owner John Middleton doesn’t want to leave Las Vegas without a deal.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 24, 2019
Narrator’s voice: “Phillies owner John Middleton would, in fact, leave without a deal.”
I'm not sure where John Middleton's plane is right now -- @JClarkNBCS says it's headed back to Clearwater -- but I'm told no agreement had been reached in Las Vegas. That should not send #Phillies fans into a panic, though. https://t.co/o3FJZvta8m— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) February 24, 2019
Bryce Harper could sign with Phillies by Tuesday, according to @Buster_ESPN @BNightengale reports could be done by Monday— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 24, 2019
As we reported last night, John Middleton flew back to Florida last night after meeting with Scott Boras Saturday and Bryce Harper Friday night pic.twitter.com/aD6GfOgCKU
In the wake of the Phillies visit to Vegas, and the talk of an impending deal that Monday or Tuesday, the “mystery teams” began showing themselves.
First, did the San Francisco Giants indeed make a “long-term” offer to Harper and Boras?
Bryce Harper could sign with Phillies by Tuesday, according to @Buster_ESPN @BNightengale reports could be done by Monday— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 24, 2019
As we reported last night, John Middleton flew back to Florida last night after meeting with Scott Boras Saturday and Bryce Harper Friday night pic.twitter.com/aD6GfOgCKU
And, all of a sudden, the Dodgers were reportedly back in the game, too.
Sources: The Dodgers are back in the mix for Bryce Harper. Club officials, including manager Dave Roberts, were seen in Las Vegas on Sunday. https://t.co/cBRqZx4kOO— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 25, 2019
From the start, Bryce Harper has sought a decade-long-plus deal. There is no indication, sources said, that has changed. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have long been opposed to very long-term deals. Still, the Dodgers’ emergence has thrown a fascinating wrench into these negotiations.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 25, 2019
If the Dodgers get serious about Harper, it almost certainly would be on a VERY short-term deal, in keeping with their operating philosophy. Phillies, on the other hand, prepared to do a monster, long-term contract.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 25, 2019
Were the Dodgers ready to “back up the Brinks truck?” Perhaps.
Sometimes real life is simply too much. This just happened at the Dodgers spring facility. pic.twitter.com/cBk8sbygfC— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) February 25, 2019
Dave Roberts said yesterday’s meeting was the first the Dodgers have held with Bryce Harper.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) February 25, 2019
#Dodgers Dave Roberts on chances of signing Bryce Harper after meeting: "I'm not too hopeful or anything. It's just something that's -- it's just talk. It's just conversation."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 25, 2019
Meanwhile, back at Phillies camp...
John Middleton is back in camp. He declined comment on negotiations w Harper— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 25, 2019
"I can't see him signing a short term contract without him and his agent Scott Boras being totally embarrassed leaving that money on the table." — @BNightengale on Bryce Harper— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) February 25, 2019
The Bryce Harper saga could be over soon. The #Dodgers entered the mix, but the #Phillies continue to believe that Harper will take the biggest deal. They might be the only team offering one. https://t.co/bVpAlFamBb— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) February 25, 2019
And now, after two days of all-Dodgers, all the time, the Giants entered the picture again.
Steve Phillips poured salt in the wound.
A source indicates that the #Phillies believe their chances of landing Bryce Harper are remote. The obvious question is whether they would pivot to Keuchel and/or Kimbrel. My sense from our interview with Matt Klentak is that they won’t play on Keuchel and only maybe on Kimbrel.— Steve Phillips (@StevePhillipsGM) February 27, 2019
The Giants are not positioning themselves as a short-term solution for Bryce Harper. Per sources, the two sides have discussed a 10-year deal. Story: https://t.co/P3fbVWeBLc— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) February 27, 2019
The sense in the Giants clubhouse today is that they have a very legitimate shot of welcoming Bryce Harper this weekend. https://t.co/7x3dAX3gld— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 27, 2019
All teams talking to Bryce Harper in these late stages, including the #SFGIants, have discussed deals of at least 10 years, I've learned.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) February 27, 2019
And at the same time, the Phillies did this.
1. Odd timing to be discounting your most expensive seats, isn’t it?— The Exceeded Valuation Phight (@TheGoodPhight) February 27, 2019
2. 37%? Where did THAT number come from?
3. “Hope springs eternal???”
And on the last day of February, word started to trickle out that the Phillies were still trying to low-ball Harper and Boras.
Source: Phillies still engaged on Bryce Harper but as of late last night sides still “significantly” apart on dollars. Harper would like to beat Stanton deal.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 28, 2019
"They have a feeling that they're not as likely to get him."@Jim_Duquette reports that the #Phillies do not have the biggest offer on the table to Bryce Harper, corroborates @StevePhillipsGM's report that the team sees its chances as "remote": pic.twitter.com/vk8po7F1pF— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 28, 2019
BUT IT WAS ALL A LIE!!!!
AND FINALLY... BRYCE SIGNS!
Like a shot out of nowhere, when we were all at our lowest, when doubt was at its highest, came the news we had waited 118 torturous days to hear.
Breaking: Bryce to the Phillies— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
And as the details began to leak out, it became clear that, with everything you just read and experienced, with all the rumors and “sources” relaying information to us all, NO ONE KNEW ANYTHING.
Bryce Harper’s deal with the Phillies will be for 13 years and $330M, league sources tell ESPN. It will not include any opt-outs.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 28, 2019
Person close to HArper says player did not want opt out. Wants to be in one city rest of career. So that kills the did not want to be in Phila crap— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 28, 2019
Word is, Harper didn't care about opt-outs. In any case it's great for the Phillies. It's quite a commitment both ways, and no one (myself included) will ever claim again that Bryce isn't necessarily enamored by Philly. He is enamored to the tune of 13 guaranteed years! #Phillies— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
Bryce Harper lands the biggest guaranteed free-agent deal in North American team sports history (13 years, $330M), though his AAV ($25.38M) is roughly $4.6M less than Manny Machado's $30M AAV with the Padres. Machado signed a 10-year, $300M deal with San Diego.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 28, 2019
Family farm: safe. Whew.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 28, 2019
It’s a very sunny day in Clearwater.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) February 28, 2019
One possible #Phillies lineup with Bryce Harper. Lots of ways this can go, obviously:— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) February 28, 2019
If Bryce Harper plays out his contract - and he has a no-trade clause and no opt outs - he will be a Phillie longer than Chase Utley, and Richie Ashburn, and Larry Bowa, and Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels. . .amazing to think about. Truly the start of a new era in this city— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) February 28, 2019
Boras emphasized 3 areas why Harper went to #Phillies: 1. Length of deal to be in 1 place. 2. Middleton coming to Vegas twice to meet with family explain current and future commitment to be top-5 payroll team. 3. Ballpark gives chance for historic achievement (career .830 at CBP)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 28, 2019
Some context on the Nats' 10-year, $300-million offer:— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) February 28, 2019
I'm told from two sources that a significant -- like, made MLB queasy -- amount of money was deferred. One source said it included $100-million in deferrals and paid Harper until he was 60.
The PHI deal has no deferrals.
The Bryce Harper sweepstakes took 117 days, and in the end, all that matters is that the #Phillies got the man they wanted all along, with no team having a finer winter. The Phillies are now the favorites to win the NL East.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 28, 2019
You think the folks in Bryce Harper's hometown in Las Vegas believe he'll be a difference maker? The #Phillies' World Series odds have gone from 12/1 to 8/1, the pennant from 7/1 to 4/1, the NL East 2/1 to 5/4 and win total from 85.5 to 89.5 per @betonline_ag— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 28, 2019
And a final lesson for us all when the Phillies potentially do this again in two years.
The $25 million AAV is a siren’s call to Mike Trout. Stupid Money II is coming soon.— Anonymous Finch (@AnonymousFinch) February 28, 2019
I, for one, am shocked that the Harper and Machado news was broken by the big name reporters and not by any combination of NFL beat reporters, former MLB players, rando fake accounts, new accounts with "sources," or oh god it's been a long winter— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) February 28, 2019
It happened, guys. It really, actually happened.