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The latest Harper free-agent rumors

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After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Could Hoskins help bring Harper to Philly?
Dec. 18: Rhys Hoskins already is beloved in Philadelphia for being a young face of the Phillies franchise as the promising and productive slugger who burst onto the scene in 2017 then followed that up with a strong sophomore season this past year.

If fans in the City of Brotherly Love didn't have enough love for Hoskins already, well, they should be excited to hear he's doing his part to help bring talent to Philly -- perhaps including superstar free agent Bryce Harper, with whom Hoskins has spoken about the team, the city and more, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports.

"Hoskins' agent is Scott Boras," Zolecki writes. "Harper's agent is Boras. Yes, Hoskins has spoken with Harper."

"Again, it's just more of me offering any look as to what this city is like, what the organization is like, what the clubhouse is like, what [manager Gabe Kapler] is like," Hoskins said. "It's not me offering information to him. If he wants it, and I've expressed this to him, that I am here for a chat if he wants it and it'd help."

Having a young star like Hoskins serve as something of a pitch person for the Phillies potentially could be quite helpful, whether he's possibly persuading superstars like Harper or Manny Machado -- who is due to visit Philly on Thursday -- or other players on the open market who could help improve the club.

The Phillies already have added shortstop Jean Segura via trade and signed veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen. What's next for Hoskins and Co.?

Phils reportedly met with Boras about Bryce last week
Dec. 18: While Manny Machado is making headlines for his visits with the White Sox (Monday), Yankees (Wednesday) and Phillies (Thursday) -- plus a potential mystery team or two -- it's been curiously quiet on the Bryce Harper front.

The hope was that some headway would be made last week at the Winter Meetings, especially since they were held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas. Alas, not much Harper news happened in the wake of the baseball world's mass exodus -- but contrary to the slogan, apparently not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports Tuesday that Harper's agent, Scott Boras, indeed did meet with the Phillies at both the General Manager and the Winter Meetings, specifically to discuss the star slugger.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Phillies met with agent scott boras regarding bryce harper at gm and winter meetings, and manny machado will travel to meet with Phillies Thursday. they and chisox are the 2 teams known to be interested in both mega stars. though the chances of 1 team signing both seems remote.

The Phillies have been linked to Harper, as well as Machado, all offseason long, so this shouldn't be a surprise. The timing of this news, however, is intriguing with the club set to host Machado on Thursday. That means by the end of this week, the Phillies will have met with both Machado himself and Harper's agent, perhaps putting them in position to make a determination of which star free agent they prefer.

Dodgers are in on Harper, but at what price?
Dec. 17: Despite having a deep, fully loaded outfield, the Dodgers have been lurking around the edges of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, according to multiple reports. But how serious are they about snagging the superstar slugger, really?

"The Dodgers are widely rumored to be in on Harper, but the reality, according to Major League sources, is that they do not want him on a long-term, record-setting contract," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes (subscription required) in a story for The Athletic. "A short-term deal with a high average salary and opt-outs might hold more appeal, but such an agreement likely would create luxury-tax issues for the Dodgers in 2019, and the team already has too many outfielders."

Translation: The Dodgers would like to land Harper, but more on their terms than on his (and those of agent Scott Boras). And even still, there have been reports that the front office is trying to stay under the luxury-tax threshold for the foreseeable future, meaning going after Harper might require a trade to unload some higher-salaried players. That's likely part of why Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood, among others, have been mentioned as chips.

What, exactly, a "short-term deal with a high average salary and opt-outs" for Harper could look like is difficult to say, but one imagines Harper and Boras would only even consider such a proposition if the AAV were at least $35 million to $40 million -- allowing Harper to hold the record for largest per-season salary.

A contract that calls for opt-outs on Harper's end makes sense -- and might even be likely -- given that trend for big-money pacts over the past few years (think: Clayton Kershaw, Jason Heyward, David Price), as well as the fact that Harper would be young enough to re-enter the open market in his late 20s, thus giving him a second shot at securing a massive payday if he so chooses.

Phillies: Harper or Machado not necessary for success
Dec. 17: The Phillies have long been connected with both of the premier free agents on this offseason's market, 26-year-old superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said Monday that while managing partner John Middleton said last month that the club might be "a little bit stupid" in how it spends money this winter, an acquisition of either isn't a prerequisite for success in 2019.

"You can have a very successful offseason and not include either one of those [players]," said MacPhail. "That may or may not be the case. But the way that it was portrayed put John in an awkward spot."

After competing for a National East division title for most of last season, only to fade fast down the stretch, Philadelphia has been rumored to be ready to make a big splash or two this offseason. It's even been suggested that the Phillies could land both Harper and Machado. Machado has ties to the Phillies through the front office, as MacPhail was the Orioles' general manager while Machado was in Baltimore. 

Former MLB general manager Jim Duquette, an analyst for MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, said he thinks the Phillies are still by far the frontrunners to land Machado.

"I would be surprised if he ends up with the White Sox. I think the Phillies will be the team," Duquette said. "The owners continue to talk about how much they're going to spend money. And they love him in the front office. I think they're the most motivated, they need him at third base, all of those things combined. ... I feel stronger today than I did before the offseason even started, that he's going to be a Phillie."

Machado is scheduled to meet with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, a day after he visits the Yankees in New York. He met with the White Sox in Chicago on Monday.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: .@Jim_Duquette: More than ever, the #Phillies look like the frontrunner for Manny Machado. pic.twitter.com/r6pL7KiykK

Could a club coming off a losing season be the one to land Harper?
Dec. 16: The White Sox have been just about as actively linked to Harper as any club this offseason; a sign that they are looking to emerge from their multi-year rebuild and return to relevancy. But do they have the resources and marketability to land Harper, particularly given that they're coming off six straight losing seasons?

It's believed that Harper wants to sign among the richest contracts in history and play for a contender. That limits the free-agent pool to just a small handful of clubs. In an interesting piece for MLB.com, analyst Mike Petriello points out that, while winning is probably important to Harper (and Manny Machado, for that matter), the underlying factor in Harper's decision making will be dollars. 

What type of team typically gives out a mega-deal?

"The thinking goes, Harper and Machado want to win," Petriello writes. "Harper has never won a playoff series. Machado hadn't before joining the Dodgers late in 2018. They won't go to a team that didn't win.

"Perhaps. But is that really true? Think about all the variables that go into a decision this momentous. Sure, winning is important. So are location, fit with the organization, ballpark, teammates, coaches and so on. But in the end, we all know the most important factor here is money. They're going to go where they can get the largest contract, and they've earned the right to do so."

Video: Verducci on offseason changes, Machado and Harper

Petriello adds that nearly 40 percent of all contracts in excess of $100 million have been given out by clubs that were coming off a sub-.500 season. It's logic backed by the hope that a prized talent can help springboard a club by making an immediate impact. 

It's worth noting that the Phillies, despite sitting in first place as late as Aug. 9, finished 80-82 last year and would fit into this criteria. Their big-market budget and ambitious front office has led many to speculate that they will land Harper or Machado this winter.

Would Harper take less money to play for the Yankees?
Dec. 15: Bryce Harper grew up idolizing Mickey Mantle, and in fact has said he wears No. 34 because the digits add up to Mantle's No. 7. Now that he's one of the top two free agents on the market, expected to command a long-term deal in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million, would he take less over a shorter period of time to join the Yankees?

MLB Network Radio's Jeff Joyce and Jim Memolo discussed the notion Saturday, with Joyce suggesting Harper could sign a short deal and then "prove himself" in New York before inking a longer-term deal to stay in the Bronx. 

Though he's coming off a down year at the plate by his lofty standards, Harper still drew an MLB-high 130 walks and launched 34 home runs. He's a six-time All-Star, the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year and '15 Most Valuable Player. And he's only 26 years old.

"How bad does he really want to be a Yankee?" Joyce asked. "Does that overweigh getting the biggest contract of all-time? Does he go to his agent and say, 'Just get me there. Just get me to the Yankees. Doesn't have to be $300 million. I'll take a shorter deal ... If he really wants to be a Yankee that bad, can't you see them trying to find a way to get that done?"

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Will Bryce Harper join the Imperial March? @JeffJoyce19 and @jimmemolo lay out the path. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/oFJvAZZ927

White Sox reportedly have spending limits for Harper, Machado
Dec. 15: The White Sox like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and are hoping to make one of them the centerpiece of their roster as they emerge from a rebuilding period, but it remains to be seen if the club will actually be among the top bidders for the two superstars.

A source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Chicago is unwilling to make a record-setting offer to either player.

"The interest of the White Sox is more measured and modest than frenzied, and within more conventional financial bounds," Olney wrote Saturday for ESPN+ (subscription required).

That might not be enough for either player to choose the White Sox, especially with the team unlikely to be a serious contender in 2019 -- even with a big free-agent splash.

As MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic (subscription required) last week, "the prevailing assumption in the industry is that [agent] Scott Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both." One would assume Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, wants to do the same, or at least come close.

Rosenthal also recently broke down why signing Harper or Machado would be out of character for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has never given out a bigger contract than the six-year, $68 million deal Jose Abreu signed in October 2013.

The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.

While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.

That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.

The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.

The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.

If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."

So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?

Who is the front-runner for Harper?
Dec. 12: The Phillies? The Yankees? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Dodgers? All of those teams -- and a few more -- have been linked to Bryce Harper so far this offseason. But which club appears to be in the lead to land the superstar slugger in free agency?

"The front-runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox," CBS Sports Network analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday. "They're the team with the checkbook open. They're being very aggressive."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���The front runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox.���@JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein that it���s the White Sox who are in the lead for Bryce Harper's services. #T2S pic.twitter.com/XoXndaF0F2

With the Winter Meetings being held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas, the White Sox met with Harper at some point, according to Bowden, who reported that the club stressed the strength of its promising farm system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, as well as infielder Nick Madrigal -- the club's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- are among the big-name, high-upside prospects who have reached the Major Leagues or should arrive soon.

Will the White Sox pull off a surprise splurge on Harper with a record-setting contract to push the franchise from rebuilding mode toward contention mode in an AL Central division that could be up for grabs as soon as 2020?

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

Boras not ruling out Yankees, Nats as suitors for Harper
Dec. 12: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but ruled out the club as a suitor for free agent Bryce Harper earlier this week, saying that there's "no spot" for the 26-year-old in New York's crowded outfield and that using him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

And yet, Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't ready to say the club is out of the running.

"I've never heard the Yankees say that," Boras said at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday when asked about the team being out on Harper. "It might be that they say things to [the media]. I don't know. I wasn't there.

"As far as the Yankees … you're talking about star players. I go back to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees are very adept; they're smart. If they're going to do something, I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they're not doing it, and have every intention of doing something else when it's best for them to do it. When the nurse walks into the room with the thermometer, the issue is not what the thermometer says that day; the issue is, what's the health of the patient when they're ready to leave the hospital? They're not ready to leave the hospital yet."

Whether it's a smokescreen or not, it benefits Boras for other teams to think the deep-pocketed Yankees are interested in Harper. It's also possible that Cashman's comments were the true smokescreen, as Boras suggested.

The Yankees seem to have a deep outfield, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier played a combined 15 games for the club in 2018 due to injuries, while Brett Gardner experienced a steep decline at the plate (86 OPS+). Aaron Hicks has been productive for New York over the past two years, but he has never played more than 137 games in a season and can become a free agent in a year. And with Giancarlo Stanton's injury history, it would be risky for New York to play him in the field every day. That leaves Aaron Judge as the only "sure thing" among the team's outfielders.

Boras also addressed the Nationals, whose principal owner, Mark Lerner, recently acknowledged that he doesn't expect Harper to be back, only for the club's general manager, Mike Rizzo, to say Washington hasn't "closed the door" on a reunion.

"I've talked to Nationals ownership a great deal," Boras said, per MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "I have a very clear understanding, as does Bryce, of their position. We've always had a great relationship and we'll continue to have a great relationship. I think when they say the door is open, I would certainly pay attention to what they're saying."

Phils get McCutchen -- but they're not out on Harper
Dec. 11: The Phillies' first key free-agent acquisition of the Winter Meetings wasn't for Harper. It was for another outfielder -- Andrew McCutchen -- whom they landed Tuesday on a three-year deal. But Philadelphia wants to be a major player in free agency this offseason, so adding McCutchen doesn't take the club out of the running for Harper.

Per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies are still involved in both the Harper and Manny Machado sweepstakes.

Tweet from @ToddZolecki: Told the McCutchen deal does not remove the #Phillies from Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Phils might not feel as pressured to spend stupid money to get them, however. Remains to be seen.

That echoes an earlier report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that McCutchen's signing wouldn't preclude Philadelphia from adding another outfielder. That outfielder could be Harper; it could be someone else (say, Michael Brantley).

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Both @MattGelb and I are hearing same from multiple sources. Told addition of McCutchen would NOT preclude #Phillies from signing another outfielder, whether it���s Harper or someone else. https://t.co/ToylyfCwL7

If it seems like going after Harper on top of McCutchen might make the Phillies outfield too crowded, don't worry. Rosenthal also suggests that getting McCutchen could lead Philadelphia to move one of its younger outfielders in a trade.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Agreement with McCutchen opens up #Phillies to possibility of trading a younger OFer. Sixto Sanchez, the #Phils��� top pitching prospect, also has been involved in numerous trade discussions, sources say.

On the other hand, signing McCutchen could also be a sign that the Phillies are focusing more on Machado over Harper, as far as marquee free-agent targets. NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury noted that possibility.

What would it take for Harper to land in LA?
Dec. 11: As agent Scott Boras continues to sell Bryce Harper as a player who can make a LeBron James-like impact, both on and off the field, could the 26-year-old outfielder follow in the NBA superstar's footsteps and head to Los Angeles?

It's certainly not out of the question, though it remains unclear if the Dodgers plan to make an aggressive play for the free agent. The contract that Harper is expected to command would be out of character for the Andrew Friedman-led Dodgers front office, which hasn't handed out more than $93 million to any one player despite consistently maintaining a high payroll.

As MLB Network insider Joel Sherman noted in a column for the New York Post on Tuesday, Los Angeles is hesitant to tie up a large portion of its future payroll, which could reduce its flexibility as the retooling Giants and D-backs become serious contenders in the National League West again within the next few years.

But Sherman still envisions a scenario in which Harper lands with the Dodgers.

"Again, it takes dominoes falling," Sherman writes. "Manny Machado would sign with the Phillies; the Nationals, Cardinals and Yankees really would continue to have no interest in Harper; and the only substantial long-term offers would come from someplace like the White Sox. In that scenario, could Harper instead pivot to accept a four-year deal from the Dodgers for a record annual amount and, say, an opt-out after two years to get back into free agency either after his age-27 or -29 season?"

It may also take a trade or two to clear room for Harper in Los Angeles, as the Dodgers have a deep outfield. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the club has talked to other teams about moving two players from the group of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger, though there has been no indication that those discussions are connected to Harper.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Dodgers have talked to other teams about moving two outfielders among the group of Kemp, Puig, Pederson, Bellinger, and as they look to re-shape payroll, they are also are prepared to move starting pitchers Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

Can White Sox capitalize on opportunity to land Harper?
Dec. 11: The possibility of the White Sox winning the Bryce Harper sweepstakes "seemingly is growing more realistic," according to Ken Rosenthal's latest column for The Athletic on Tuesday (subscription required). But the question remains, would owner Jerry Reinsdorf be willing to break the bank?

As the Winter Meetings enter their second day, Rosenthal lays out the factors the White Sox have going for and against them. In their favor: other suitors dropping out on Harper, and financial flexibility. Not so much in their favor: the size and type of the deal Harper wants.

Two teams that could have been major players for Harper, the Yankees and Nationals, appear to have dropped out of the running, based on comments from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Nats owner Mark Lerner in the last few days. And sources have told Rosenthal that another pair of teams that looked like potential landing spots, the Cubs and Cardinals, are also not engaged in pursuit of the superstar outfielder. Teams like the Dodgers and Phillies will likely go after Harper, per Rosenthal, as well as others, but the White Sox look like they might see less competition than they could have.

Rosenthal also notes that no other team has a more favorable payroll situation to making room for Harper. The White Sox have just over $50 million committed for 2019… and just over $5 million committed for 2020. In 2021 and '22, they have just one player under contract, shortstop Tim Anderson.

So they're in prime position to make a marquee signing, especially in a wide-open American League Central. But to actually get Harper, they'd need to hand out a deal the likes of which the franchise never has before.

The White Sox's largest contract ever awarded is Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million deal signed in 2013. Reinsdorf does not typically give free agents big contracts, and on top of that a source told Rosenthal that Reinsdorf has privately expressed doubt that his club will win the bidding war for Harper. Plus, Harper also likely wants a deal with multiple opt-outs, which would mean the White Sox risking him leaving just as they were poised to contend.

But Chicago's owner has surprised before -- Rosenthal cites his "stunning" signing of Albert Belle to a five-year, $55 million deal in November 1996 -- and now would be the perfect time to do it again.

Does Harper fit with Yankees?
Dec. 10: The Yankees continue to be mentioned as a team that could be a fit for Bryce Harper, but could the club actually fit Harper?

When asked about the superstar, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said there's "no spot" for him in New York's crowded outfield and that deploying him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Asked about Bryce Harper, Brian Cashman rattled off the names of his six outfielders and said there���s no spot. Reiterated that playing Harper at first base isn���t an option for the Yankees.

Indeed, with incumbent starters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, as well as returning options Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier as backups, the club is more than set in the outfield. And while the topic of Harper as a first baseman has been floated by his agent, Scott Boras, that possibility doesn't appear to interest Cashman, despite the Yankees relying on the still-unproven Luke Voit and Greg Bird at the position.

If that wasn't a forceful enough take on Harper, Cashman followed up by saying, "I'm surprised [the media is] still asking" about the team's interest, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch relayed.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Cashman said that at no point this winter did he talk about getting an outfielder. ���The Harper stuff, I���m surprised you���re still asking.���

Rizzo: Nats not closing door on Harper
Dec. 10: Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner's candid interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday drew widespread publicity, as Lerner acknowledged that the reported 10-year, $300 million offer Bryce Harper rejected at the end of the regular season was "the best we can do," and indicated that he didn't expect the free-agent outfielder to be back.

And yet, a reunion between Harper and Washington is a possibility that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn't ruling out.

"We haven't closed the door on [Harper]," Rizzo said Monday on MLB Network Radio. "He's a big part of our franchise. He's near and dear to my heart personally, and professionally he's a great player."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Mike Rizzo: "We haven't closed the door on Bryce Harper."Plot: [Thickens]#Nationals GM at the #WinterMeetings: pic.twitter.com/I5Aq4SzQiP

The Nats have been one of the busier teams this offseason, acquiring Patrick Corbin, Trevor Rosenthal, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, and it's unclear if the club will still be open to giving Harper $300 million should the 26-year-old come back to the negotiating table. But with rivals such as the Phillies expected to be among the bidders for Harper, it is better for the Nats if other teams think Washington might still be in.

Crowded Yankees outfield may be obstacle to Harper signing
Dec. 9: The Yankees are among the rumored destinations for Bryce Harper, and while they plan to meet with the free-agent star, there may be some obstacles to any potential signing.

New York is reportedly questioning if there's a place for Harper due to their surplus of outfielders -- including Giancarlo Stanton, who's due to earn $25 million-$32 million per year through 2027 -- per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees are also in the mix for shortstop Manny Machado, who seems to be a more natural fit given Didi Gregorius will miss much of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The club is said to be prioritizing acquiring another starting pitcher, even after the James Paxton trade, and the price to acquire Harper may prove too high, as Heyman also said New York is unwilling to offer Machado the $300 million contract both he and Harper are rumored to be seeking or perhaps exceed. Harper already turned down a reported 10-year, $300 million offer to remain in Washington, D.C.

Still, the Yankees are among the few teams with the financial means to sign a marquee free agent like Harper. And with Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner publicly acknowledging he doesn't expect Harper to return to the club, the pool of teams that would conceivably add a free-agent contract the size of Harper's to their payroll has shrunk by one.

White Sox selling Harper and Machado on a bright future
Dec. 8: The White Sox are willing to break the bank to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it may take more than cash to get one of those players to sign on the dotted line. Chicago also offers one of the biggest media markets in sports, but even that might not be enough.

As a 10-season postseason drought hangs over the franchise, the White Sox will need to sell Harper and Machado on the idea that World Series championship contention is right around the corner as their talent-rich farm system -- led by top prospect Eloy Jimenez (No. 3 overall, per MLB Pipeline) -- continues to bear fruit.

Granted, adding Harper or Machado might not make the White Sox instant contenders, even in the underwhelming American League Central.

The club has major needs on the pitching staff, especially with No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech (No. 19 overall) set to miss all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear when No. 3 prospect Dylan Cease (No. 25 overall) and No. 6 prospect Dane Dunning (No. 59 overall) will be ready to contribute to the Major League rotation.

But general manager Rick Hahn thinks other players are clued-in enough to understand what the White Sox are building toward.

"You have to understand these guys are professionals, and they understand deep nuances about each individual franchise," Hahn said, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "From a macro standpoint, the idea of potentially being part of a winner in Chicago has very broad appeal.

"From a nuanced standpoint, the chance to be part of the White Sox organization based upon what our future looks like, futures that these players are familiar with and understand having either seen personally some of these young players play or video or talked to other players about them, it's something that they buy into."

While Chicago is likely planning for Jimenez to take over in left field at some point next season, Harper would fit perfectly into the right-field vacancy created when the club non-tendered Avisail Garcia, and the 26-year-old would also give the White Sox a strong left-right tandem of Harper and Jose Abreu in the middle of the order.

Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 7: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. While they recently traded for infielder Jean Segura from the Mariners, they even more recently missed out on splurging on lefty Patrick Corbin, so the possibility that they could land Harper and/or Machado likely only increased.

But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB.com's Todd Zolecki weighs exactly that question. His answer?

"There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper. Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position. It is why Machado has a career 33.8 WAR, while Harper has a career 27.4 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. If the Phils can convince Machado to play third base -- his best position -- they will have one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball for years. Oh, Machado could come at a lower price than Harper, too."

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing otherwise, though, writing Thursday for Fancred Sports that Harper "is believed to be their top target." However, a confidant of Harper thinks the outfielder is "lukewarm on Philly, as a city, anyway."

If that's the case, then perhaps Machado is the more likely option, whether the Phillies prefer Harper or not.