If free agent Bryce Harper is the jackpot of Major League Baseball's offseason, it is only appropriate the race to sign him has reportedly already taken a number of teams to his hometown of Las Vegas.
According to Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, "upward of a dozen teams" have either met with Harper in Sin City or plan on meeting with him in the coming days as the league's winter meetings are slated to start Sunday.
Brown and Passan had reported Magic Johnson, who owns a stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers, accompanied other team officials with the defending National League champions. But Magic denied the report, stating "the only time I remember meeting Bryce Harper was on the field at Dodger Stadium two years ago when Dusty Baker introduced us."
Johnson is no stranger to helping his teams acquire marquee free agents, as he fittingly ran point on the Los Angeles Lakers' pursuit of LeBron James this past summer. Passan and Brown noted L.A. isn't the only team sending star power, though, as the White Sox included Hall of Famer Jim Thome among those who traveled to Las Vegas.
Passan and Brown pointed to other contenders as well, noting Harper grew up as a Yankees fan and the Phillies created an opening in the outfield by trading first baseman Carlos Santana, which will move Rhys Hoskins to the vacant position.
Elsewhere, Harper is close friends with fellow Las Vegas native Kris Bryant—the 2016 National League MVP third baseman of the Cubs. Gabe Lacques of USA Today pointed out Harper's dog is even named Wrigley and the two players' wives, Kayla Harper and Jessica Bryant, are friends as well.
There is still the cost to consider, and Lacques suggested it may take a 12-year deal worth $420 million to sign him.
That is a head-turning number, but it's not every day a 26-year-old with a resume featuring an NL Rookie of the Year award (2012), NL MVP (2015) and six All-Star nods hits the open market.
Harper showed off what he can do when he slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs and 99 RBI in his MVP season. He is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he won the Home Run Derby on his way to 34 long balls and a career-best 100 RBI.
Whichever team navigates the offseason meetings and race to sign Harper will have someone who can serve as a featured piece of the franchise for nearly a decade of prime performance.