MESA, Ariz. — We may finally be nearing a resolution in the Bryce Harper free agency saga at just the right time.
Spring training begins in earnest Monday with position players officially reporting around the league and Harper may not be far behind.
USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reported Sunday evening the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly willing to meet Harper's price tag and give him more than the $300 million, 10-year deal the Washington Nationals offered before the season ended:
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
Keep in mind, Nightengale is not reporting a done deal and the key word is Harper "appears" to have found a team willing to meet his price tag in the Phillies.
But this is one of those "big, if true" situations that portends a potential conclusion to Harper's 3.5-month free agency tour.
The Cubs ruled themselves out of the Harper Sweepstakes back at the very beginning of the offseason due to a bloated payroll for 2019 and a budget that doesn't have the room for the salary Harper is about to make.
The Phillies have been rumored to be in on Harper from Day 1 and owner John Middleton famously said his team may spend "stupid" money this winter. They've been very aggressive this offseason trying to build around a young core and improve upon thhe 80 wins they put up a season ago.
The Phillies have already signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and traded for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto in the last couple months while also giving ace Aaron Nola a long-term extension.
Adding Harper to the mix would be a huge boost to the Phillies' chances in what is shaping up to be a very competitive National League East.