Phillies

Phillies firm up meeting with Bryce Harper, continue their pursuit of Manny Machado

Phillies firm up meeting with Bryce Harper, continue their pursuit of Manny Machado

The Phillies have firmed up their face-to-face meeting with free agent Bryce Harper.

A source confirmed a USA Today report that the meeting will take place Saturday in Las Vegas, Harper's hometown.

A contingent of Phillies officials, led by managing partner John Middleton, will make the trip to Las Vegas to meet with Harper and his representative, Scott Boras. In addition to Middleton, the Phillies will be represented by club president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler.

Phillies officials met with Boras last month at the winter meetings. This will be their first meeting with Harper. One of the matters Phillies officials want to discuss with Harper is his desire to play for the Phillies. Some media reports have suggested that Philadelphia is not high on the slugging outfielder's list of potential destinations. Boras has maintained that Harper always enjoyed his trips to Philadelphia with the Washington Nationals. In 50 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Harper has 14 homers, 32 RBIs and a .930 OPS.

While the Phillies have interest in Harper, they have not made an offer to him and it's unclear if they will. The Phillies remain primarily interested in infielder Manny Machado, the other megastar on this winter's free-agent market. The Phils are currently in negotiations with Machado. The White Sox and Yankees are also in the hunt for Machado. He visited with all three clubs before Christmas.

Though Middleton is on record as saying the Phillies could spend "stupid money" this winter, it remains unlikely that the Phils would sign both Machado and Harper.

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A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

The Phillies finally got their slugger of the future.

That’s what Phillies fans and many people around the game were thinking after Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player in MLB history to slug 18 career home runs, accomplishing the feat in 34 games. Hoskins set the mark in a win against the Miami Marlins on September 14th, 2017 and you can relive it today on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

That home run off of former Phillie Vance Worley would also be the last of Hoskins’ rookie campaign. In the two seasons that have followed since, Hoskins has hit a more-than-respectable 63 total home runs. But his slugging percentage dropped in each season since 2017, going from .618 SLG as a rookie to .454 SLG in 2019.

So, where does Hoskins go from here? It would be overly critical to question whether Hoskins will be a one-year wonder. He has posted solid, if not spectacular, power numbers since that first season. But he also hasn’t been anywhere near the conversation for best power hitters in the National League either.

Here’s a reason for optimism: As much as he said the right things, my sense is that Hoskins was negatively impacted by the launch angle, pitch-taking mindset set forth as dogma by the Gabe Kapler regime. Hoskins already possesses those tendencies naturally. Adding more thought to the equation led to plate paralysis. As walks increased, production diminished from a player that this franchise is counting upon to create runs. With Joe Girardi and hitting coach Joe Dillon at the helm, there’s reason to think we’ll see Hoskins get back to “see ball, hit ball” mode.

It also can’t hurt to have a full season under his belt with Bryce Harper. While the two have a good relationship, it couldn’t have been easy to go from leading man to best supporting actor status. That dynamic should come more comfortably for Hoskins in the seasons ahead.

Who knows what the 2020 season will look like? Or if we’ll even have a season? But my bet is that Hoskins figures it out and puts together a 40 home run season in the not-too-distant future.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

A special guest joined the Phillies Talk podcast Friday: former Phillies All-Star and World Series champion Shane Victorino.

• Victorino on the sports shutdown

• His love of Philly, the fans and how they embraced him

• Why Philly made such a difference in his life

• The confidence that Charlie Manuel and Gene Lamont gave him

• Shane on his famous walk-off outfield assist

• Victorino's 40-yard dash vs. Troy Polamalu

• Victorino on Bryce Harper

• His message to Phillies fans

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