Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Phillies 'clear' favorite to sign Bryce Harper

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 13, 2019 - 9:56 am

The Phillies meeting with Bryce Harper is over -- and they seem to be very confident about how it went. 

Speaking to 6ABC on Saturday night, Phillies owner John Middleton offered up a very positive review for their time spent with the elite free agent on Saturday in Las Vegas. 

"How can you not be excited when you when you talk to a player like Bryce Harper?," Middleton said. "He is an exciting player. He is a terrific player. So, we thought it was a really good day. I think it was really positive."

The meeting seemed to be about much more than just baseball, as Middleton also seemed extremely impressed by his time spent with Harper. 

"We really got to see the man," Middleton said. "We have watched the player play for years, but we got to understand the man, we got to understand what he would be like in the dugout, the clubhouse and the community."

With the meeting over, the time for a decision could finally be here. All signs continue to point to Harper joining the Phillies, as a report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale stated that the team is now the "clear-cut favorite" to land Harper. 

Nightengale writes:

The Philadelphia Phillies, and not the Washington Nationals, have emerged as the clear-cut favorite to sign free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper after meeting with him for five hours Saturday in Las Vegas, three officials told USA TODAY Sports. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of ongoing negotiations, but the Phillies have become the most aggressive team in their pursuit for Harper while the Nationals’ interest appears to be waning. Nationals executives are now calling a reunion with Harper a “long shot.’’

That has been the opinion of  Nightengale consistently since free agency started, and Nightengale tripled-down on Harper to Philly on the 94WIP High Hopes Podcast with Jack Fritz and James Seltzer earlier this week. 

"I'm gonna stick with the Phillies with Bryce Harper. I just think it's more probable than ever before, particularly that the big boys aren't involved," Nightengale said on Thursday afternoon. "The Cubs aren't involved, the Dodgers—the Dodgers would probably be his first choice because he lives in Vegas, Spring Training in Arizona and everything else. I still got Bryce Harper going to the Phillies."

Nightengale originally wrote that you "can bank on" Harper signing with the Phillies on November 8th.

Has anything changed since then?

"It really hasn't," he said. "The only thing that has come into affect since I wrote that column, was the Nationals haven't gone away. At that time, the Nationals said, hey, we offer him $300 million. He turned it down, see you later. Since that time, the Nationals have remained engaged. To what degree? No one's really sure. That's the only difference. They're still in the mix.

"I think the Phillies will blow away the White Sox in an offer. The Cubs and Dodgers haven't stepped forward with any offers, so I really think it comes down to Phillies and Nationals."

As for Harper's price, Nightengale believes the offer will creep towards 12 years, $350 million. 

"I would think for them to make sure the Nationals aren't involved, you gotta go more toward the 350 (million) mark," he said. "I would think a 10, 12 year contract between 300 and 350 (million) would be at least the starting point to get it done. Probably 12 years."

You can check out the full interview with Middleton here: