Updated: 1:50 p.m.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — There is some anxiety in Phillies camp this morning after an overnight report about the Los Angeles Dodgers jumping into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes surfaced.
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
The Phillies are in deep negotiations with Harper's agent, Scott Boras. John Middleton, the team's managing partner, spent part of the weekend meeting with Harper and Boras in Las Vegas, the player's hometown.
Middleton returned to the Phillies' spring-training headquarters early Monday afternoon. He spoke outside the facility for about 15 minutes with club president Andy MacPhail and Jim Buck, a member of the ownership group, before entering and heading up to the executive offices. Middleton greeted reporters but otherwise declined comment until the drama is resolved.
The Phillies have been recently considered the favorite to land Harper because they have the money to top Giancarlo Stanton's record guarantee of $325 million in the form of a long-term deal. Other suitors for Harper — the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and now the Dodgers — seem to prefer a shorter-term deal and Harper's camp has long let it be known that the player is looking for a lengthy deal.
The incumbent Washington Nationals could also re-engage with Harper as their owner left "the door cracked" while proclaiming he was out of the Harper sweepstakes last week.
The Dodgers have long been connected to Harper, but their preference is to do a short-term deal. That — and their signing of outfielder A.J. Pollock — is why they essentially disappeared from the Harper radar over the last couple of months.
If the Dodgers are still thinking short-term deal with a high average annual value, they could present an interesting dilemma for Boras and Harper: Go to Los Angeles for, say, four years at maybe $40 million per season and get back out on the free-agent market at age 30 — or even sooner if there is an opt-out — or take the Phillies' record guarantee.
Harper has no aversion to playing in Philadelphia, according to a person close to him (see story), but his storybook landing spot has always been Dodger Stadium. It is close to his home in Las Vegas and would appeal to his Hollywood image and help in his quest to become the LeBron James of baseball.
The Phillies' lure revolves around money and an improving roster.
And so the drama continues ...
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