Bryce Harper Rumors: Phillies 'Clear-Cut Favorite' to Sign Star over Nationals

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2019

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) leaves the field after the Nationals ended their last home game of the season with a 9-3 rain delayed win against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

On a day when the Philadelphia Eagles will look to defeat the New Orleans Saints, it appears Bryce Harper might go marching in to the City of Brotherly Love.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Sunday the Philadelphia Phillies have become the "clear-cut favorite" to land Harper, the co-crown jewel (with Manny Machado) of this free-agent class.

Harper met with the Phillies for five hours Saturday in Las Vegas. A formal contract offer was not made, but one is expected within the next week.

Harper, 26, hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI last season with the Washington Nationals. He's been an All-Star six times in seven MLB seasons but has struggled with consistency. The 2018 season marked the second time in three years he batted below .250. He has also finished in the top 10 of MVP voting just once, though that was when he won the award in 2015.

The Phillies are reportedly optimistic they will sign either Harper or Machado, with whom they've also had discussions. The free-agent market has moved slowly this offseason in part because of the glacial pace of negotiations with Harper and Machado. The players are wildly talented but come with major question marks: Harper with his consistency and Machado with his "missteps."

The Phillies are in a unique position to strike on a major name since most of their best players are locked in on low-cost contracts. Jake Arrieta is the only player on the roster making $10 million-plus who was not acquired this offseason.

Philly has already signed reliever David Robertson and outfielder Andrew McCutchen and also traded for shortstop Jean Segura.

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