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The latest Harper free-agent rumors

MLB.com

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.

Here's how Harper could fit with Yankees
Feb. 15: The Yankees have made several additions this offseason to bolster their roster ahead of another run at reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009. The club has brought in the likes of James Paxton, Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu and brough back J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia and Zack Britton. But is that enough to overtake the powerhouse Red Sox?

While it may be, with superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still on the free-agent market, MLB.com's Mike Lupica asks: How much farther would the organization go financially to tilt the scales more sharply in its favor? Signing Harper or Machado certainly would do that, but neither will come cheap, and the Yankees already have a payroll in the $220 million range.

"Yankees fans want [owner Hal] Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman to finish the job this season," Lupica writes. "[If] it turns out that they haven't spent enough, and Machado or Harper might make all the difference, Yankees fans aren't going to want to hear about how fiscally responsible the team is being." More >

Here's a look at how Harper, in particular, could fit into the Yankees' roster and lineup, courtesy of MLB.com's Andrew Simon.

Video: Harper, Machado keep Yankees on their radar

Are Phillies still front-runners for Harper or Machado?
Feb. 15: Even if the Phillies aren't necessarily the first choice for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, will one of the superstar free agents ultimately accept Philadelphia's offer?

Buster Olney predicted as much on ESPN's "Get Up!," saying the feeling is that the White Sox are a "safety net" for both players.

With both Harper and Machado reportedly seeking contracts in the range of 10 years for more than $300 million, the two have lingered on the free agent market. But Olney thinks both players eventually will land deals between 8 and 10 years.

Meanwhile, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak indicated that he is still monitoring the open market but feels like the team accomplished its offseason goals by adding Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and David Robertson.

"I think if you look at our offseason, we have done just about everything we've set out to do," Klentak said. "At the beginning of the offseason, we identified for sure that we wanted to improve the team defense. That was a flaw of our team last year and it was something we knew we needed to address. We wanted to address our ability to get good hitters out late in the game, particularly left-handed hitters. We think we've addressed that. We've addressed our offense in a couple of key places. And now we've taken care of locking up our best young player. A lot of years, that would be a very complete, thorough and successful offseason. And I really think that it is. The notion that we hear that if we fail to sign a big free agent then it's a failure of an offseason, I don't agree with that.

"Now, I say all that, I'm not trying to throw cold water on the idea that we may still sign a free agent. We are going to continue to explore that market because there's still several really good free agents out there."

The belief in Clearwater is that the Phils' front office prefers Machado over Harper because of the former's combination of offense and defense, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. However, the club remains in contact with each player's agent.

Video: Klentak discusses the free agents still on market

Which teams have the best chance at landing Harper?
Feb. 13: Bryce Harper has been connected to several teams since the offseason began, but while a few clubs have emerged to be seen as frontrunners, which teams have the best chance to land the superstar free agent? MLB.com's Mark Feinsand ranked every potential landing spot for Harper based on the likelihood that the club signs him.

The "longshots" on Feinsand's list are the Cubs, Yankees, and Giants, with San Francisco being the most recent club to join the Harper Sweepstakes by meeting with him in Las Vegas last week. The next category up is "contenders," in which Feinsand places the Padres and White Sox. San Diego is also a recent entrant into the "Harper Bazaar" as his agent, Scott Boras, called it early in the offseason, and also sent a delegation to meet with Harper. The White Sox have shown serious interest this offseason in both Harper and fellow 26-year-old free agent Manny Machado, even though Chicago is currently in the middle of a rebuild with a lot of talent in the pipeline.

Finally, in the "favorites" category are the Phillies and Harper's former team, the Nationals. Philadelphia made it no secret at the start of the offseason that it intended to spend big. Washington reportedly offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of last season, which he declined, but it has been reported since then that the Nats increased their offer substantially and are definitely in the running.

"The Phillies have been the odds-on favorites to land Harper and/or Machado from the outset of the offseason, and many believe they will still ultimately sign one of them," writes Feinsand. "Last week's trade for J.T. Realmuto made the Phillies' roster even more attractive for a free agent, though some have wondered whether either Harper or Machado wants to play in Philly."

With respect to the Nationals, Feinsand writes that "the consensus is that Boras will give Nationals ownership a chance to exceed [or at least match] the biggest offer before Harper signs elsewhere." More >

Video: When will Harper and Machado sign new deals?

Is Harper open to a short-term deal?
Feb. 13: While it has been reported that the Giants are hoping to sign Bryce Harper to a shorter-term contract, the star slugger "is not signing -- or even considering -- short-term deals," according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Despite rumored offers/wishes of teams, word is Bryce Harper is not signing ��� or even considering ��� short-term deals.

That is similar to what MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi is hearing. "According to what I was told by a source, Harper is not actively discussing a short-term deal right now with the Giants," Morosi says. "At this point in time, Harper's mindset is still the longer-term deal. I think if Harper was going to sign a short-term deal, if that was a preference of his, he would have done so by now."

ESPN's Buster Olney reports that there's even skepticism among some of the people involved in the discussions that the Giants would generate the type of offer that will sway the slugger to pick San Francisco.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: There continues to be skepticism among some of the folks involved in the Giants/Harper conversation that San Francisco would generate the kind of offer that would sway the slugger. More smoke than fire at this point, in eyes of some involved.

Still, USA Today's Bob Nightengale thinks that the club is a strong place, telling San Francisco radio station KNBR that the Giants and Phillies look like the finalists to land the superstar outfielder.

"Right now, I really do think it's the Giants and the Phillies. It's a two-team race here," said Nightengale, who thinks San Francisco and Philadelphia are neck and neck. "With the Giants moving in and all the optimism, I do believe it's a coin flip," Nightengale said. "I think for the Phillies to get Harper, they're going to have to grossly outbid the Giants to get him. I really do. I think if it's close, he goes to San Francisco. If there's a huge gap, it's tough to walk away from that kind of money."

On the other hand, Nightengale believes the Nationals and Dodgers -- two of the other suitors most strongly linked to Harper this offseason -- are "definitely out of it."

The Giants did make a move to address their outfield Tuesday, bringing in Gerardo Parra on a Minor League deal. While Parra has a good chance to make the team, a source told Morosi that the Giants, who have a full 40-man roster, remain hopeful to sign Harper and didn't want to add another outfielder to their 40-man roster until Harper's situation is settled. Hence, the Minor League contract for Parra.

Video: MLB Tonight on Harper not looking for short-term deal

Could Giants add Harper and still go through rebuild?
Feb. 11: The Giants recently entered the race for Bryce Harper, sparking comparisons to the 1992-93 offseason, when San Francisco signed Barry Bonds after a 72-90 season.

With Bonds in the fold, the Giants won 103 games in 1993. Could Harper lead this San Francisco club to a similar turnaround and help the franchise get another few postseason runs from its aging core? Perhaps that's what new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and team president and CEO Larry Baer are hoping.

However, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman suggests that signing Harper could be a "middle-ground move" that keeps the club relevant while Zaidi reconstructs the roster.

"I wonder if the Giants are in this right now because they looked left and right and said, 'Well, Bryce Harper's still out there.'" Sherman said Monday on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" program. "'Should we at least put our toe in the water and see if we can do this at a level that we like? Because he's young enough to be part of our next good team, and he's star enough to keep our fans interested in the painful period that's likely to come over the next two to three years.'"

In Sherman's view, it would be surprising if the Giants stuck with the status quo, considering the hiring of Zaidi was the organization's way of breaking free from an old-fashioned thought process and ushering in a new era. But Harper could at least prevent the club from bottoming out and losing more fans and viewers in the interim.

"When you're in a market like San Francisco, where you're selling out every day, where TV ratings do matter, where you're in competition with the 49ers and the championship Warriors, you want to make sure you don't bleed out in the two- or three- or four-year period where they're [rebuilding]."

Video: Joel Sherman on the Giants' interest in Harper

One GM's prediction: Harper to Padres, Machado to Phillies
Feb. 11: Where will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign? The top question of the offseason will now become one of the top questions of Spring Training as pitchers and catchers report MLB-wide this week.

While both players' markets are still somewhat shrouded in mystery, one MLB general manager offered up his prediction to SNY's Andy Martino recently. In said GM's opinion, Harper is going to sign with the Padres, and Machado with the Phillies.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Asked this exact question of an MLB GM the other day and he said Harper to Padres, Machado to Phillies. But honestly, no one really knows yet. https://t.co/Y0wU6FHShj

San Diego recently entered the mix for Harper, meeting with the outfielder at the end of January. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is one of two clubs -- along with the White Sox -- that are known to be engaged with both Harper and Machado.

Harper also recently met with another National League West team, the Giants, in Las Vegas, and "there has been an increased sense among some in the clubhouse that Harper prefers" San Francisco, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Report: Giants prefer short-term deal for Harper
Feb. 10: The Giants have emerged as a serious contender for Bryce Harper in the past week, but USA Today's Bob Nightengale writes that the club has "no desire" to make Harper an offer approaching the 10-year, $300 million deal he reportedly rejected from the Nationals in September. Rather, San Francisco plans to make Harper a lucrative short-term offer.

Of course, as Nightengale notes, ownership was willing to take on $265 million of Giancarlo Stanton's contract last offseason if it acquired him from the Marlins, so it's possible the Giants will be open to investing that type of money in Harper as well.

Harper was a popular topic during the Giants' annual FanFest at Oracle Park on Saturday. The club's CEO, Larry Baer, declined to make any predictions about where Harper will land, but did say the meeting Giants executives had with him earlier this week in Las Vegas went well and lasted four hours, longer than either side expected. Baer also said the Giants are "giving it a shot."

Video: Giants CEO Baer discusses interest in Harper

According to NBC Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, Harper spoke of his admiration of catcher Buster Posey during the meeting, and "there has been an increased sense among some in the clubhouse that Harper prefers the Giants."

On Sunday, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr chimed in during a press conference, saying, "Bryce, come to San Francisco. Let's go."

Tweet from @NBCSWarriors: Coach Kerr has a message for you, @Bharper3407 😏 pic.twitter.com/KpNthKUBtM

The Giants, along with the Dodgers and Padres, are among the clubs closest to Harper's home in Las Vegas. A move to sign Harper wouldn't be unprecedented for the franchise; San Francisco plucked a 28-year-old Barry Bonds off the market in late 1992 with a six-year, $44 million contract that was, at that time, the largest in baseball history. The following season, the club won 103 games.

"There is obviously mutual interest on both sides," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Friday. "We thought it made sense to get together. We had a good conversation over a few hours. He's obviously got a lot of suitors and a lot of interest. He's going to have some decisions to make. I think it's fair to say that was an expression of our interest level, to make the trip out there to meet with him. You don't make a trip out there to meet with a player just for show."

Zaidi, though, wouldn't go as far as saying whether the team has made a formal offer to Harper.

Video: MLB Tonight on Harper's meeting with the Giants

What would an Arenado extension mean for Harper?
Feb. 9: The Rockies are optimistic they will be able to sign their superstar third baseman, Nolan Arenado, to a contract extension soon, as club owner Dick Monfort told MLB.com's Thomas Harding last week. If Colorado is able to secure Arenado for the long term, how might that impact two superstars still on the free-agent market in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado?

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand writes that Arenado's extension could set a new average annual value record for position players, and if it does, Harper and Machado could benefit.

"It depends on the numbers, but I would expect the agents to fight to be above [Arenado's deal]," one AL general manager told Feinsand.

Beyond the AAV, the length of a potential Arenado extension, which could keep the 27-year-old in Denver through his mid-30s, could be a boon for Harper and Machado as well, as they seek deals that would exceed 10 years and $300 million.

Feinsand also delves into how an Arenado extension would impact this summer's trade market, as well as next offseason's free-agent market. More >

Harper faces "staring contest" ahead of Spring Training
Feb. 8: The sweepstakes for what was touted to be one of the biggest free-agent classes in history remains at a standstill just days before clubs report to Spring Training. And the root of the impasse, for Bryce Harper (and Manny Machado) at least, seems to be easy to decipher: dollars. 

In a Friday piece for The Athletic (subscription required), MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal outlined the many factors as to why both players remain unsigned with roughly seven weeks left until Opening Day. Rosenthal reports that both are still seeking a deal in excess of $300 million, and given their limited pool of suitors, that figure could remain difficult to attain. 

Rosenthal adds that "neither wants to sign first, knowing once one of the players goes off the board, the other will benefit from gaining the sole attention of the remaining suitors" and that  "the clubs, too, prefer to stall."

The Phillies and White Sox have been the clubs most prominently linked to both players, and though the Padres emerged as an interested party in each last week, San Diego may have just been doing its due diligence late in the offseason. 

Rosenthal writes that Philly has conviction that it will land one or the other, with the financial bandwidth capable of topping any offer either player might otherwise receive. And White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Rosenthal adds, would prefer to wait out to the market to glean a firm gauge on what either player will cost, then determine if he's willing to meet that figure.  

Could Realmuto acquisition sway Harper to sign with Phils?
Feb. 8: If the Phillies wanted to gain even more leverage in their pursuit of Bryce Harper, trading for a player that Harper has publicly admired for years certainly couldn't hurt. The Phils continued their promising offseason by adding All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto on Thursday, which should help bolster a lineup that was already projected to win 84 games, according to PECOTA forecasts from Baseball Prospectus. 

Video: IT discusses Phils getting Realmuto, eyeing Harper

It wasn't long ago that Harper publicly expressed frustration with the Nationals failing to land Realmuto ahead of last summer's non-waiver Trade Deadline. But Washington's surprisingly sustained level of disappointment prompted the club to sell instead of buy. And in a game against the Marlins three days before the Deadline, in which Realmuto drove in the winning run, Harper told reporters after: "If that guy was on our side, it wouldn't have happened."

Additionally, at the All-Star Game a few weeks prior, Harper playfully placed a Nats cap on Realmuto's head while the National League club was posing for a photo.  

Bryce Harper is a big fan of new Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto

So, while Harper's decision will likely come down to dollars more than anything, it can't hurt the Phils' chances that they acquired an All-Star talent that Harper has made it clear he's a fan of. 

How Realmuto to Philly could affect Harper
Feb. 7: While the Phillies continue to pursue free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the club made another big move to bolster its roster Thursday, acquiring catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins in a four-player deal. With the ambitious team looking to propel its way to contention, adding the game's top backstop could affect its leverage with not just Harper, but also Machado.

As MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal points out, the determining factor for Harper and Machado will likely still be dollars.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Phillies view Realmuto, if acquired, as another potential enticement for Harper or Machado. Obviously, the biggest enticement will be money. https://t.co/N2R1wgL29U

But adding to an already strong positional nucleus -- Realmuto will join shortstop Jean Segura, left fielder Andrew McCutchen and closer David Robertson as Philly's prized offseason acquisitions (so far) -- certainly doesn't hurt Philadelphia's chances.

It's unclear what the Phillies have offered to both Harper and Machado, but multiple reports have shared that Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nats at the end of the regular season, and Machado turned down a seven-year, $175 million deal from the White Sox recently. 

It's believed that, because their markets haven't gained much traction, the Phils are playing a waiting game of sorts while holding most of the leverage. 

Although adding Realmuto makes the team's need for Harper or Machado less acute, it doesn't sound as though Philadelphia is backing out of the race for either player.

"This doesn't take us out of the free-agent market by any stretch," general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Philadelphia #Phillies GM Matt Klentak, when asked if the JT Realmuto acquisition will have any impact on a certain couple of free agents: "This doesn���t take us out of the free-agent market by any stretch.'' #Harper #Machado

Meanwhile, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that according to an official with one of the teams pursuing Harper, the superstar's decision does not appear to be imminent. Further, Morosi notes that according to a source familiar with the Nationals' thinking, Washington may be wary of losing Harper to the Phillies, in particular, given that the two are National League East rivals. That may cause the Nats to up their bid for Harper in the event he is close to signing with Philadelphia.

On Thursday, Baseball Prospectus released its 2019 PECOTA projections and forecasted that the Phils would win 84 games, tied with the Braves for third in the National League East behind the Mets and Nationals, who are each projected to win 89 games. But those forecasts did not include the acquisition of Realmuto, who is projected to be worth 3.8 Wins Above Replacement, according to Steamer

As Harper and Machado remain unsigned, Steinbrenner not ruling out another big addition
Feb. 7: Although Yankees manager Aaron Boone said earlier this week that he thought the team's roster was set for 2019, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner is leaving the door open for another big acquisition.

"I don't think it's ever done," Steinbrenner said Thursday, according to Newsday. "Look, if somebody comes -- I haven't changed -- I mean if somebody comes to me with a suggestion or a proposal, I'm going to seriously consider it right up until Opening Day or after. That's part of my leave-no-stone-unturned [policy], right? But I'm excited about the roster. I think we've definitely got a better club Opening Day than we did Opening Day last year, particularly in pitching, which was my biggest area of concern."

The Yankees have had a busy offseason, adding James Paxton, Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu and re-signing CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Zack Britton.

But as long as superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain available, the deep-pocketed Yanks will continue to loom as a potential suitor, no matter how unlikely that seems right now.

"Fans should keep an open mind that I'm never done until I'm done, and that's not usually until Opening Day," Steinbrenner said. "Proposals come to me every day with these guys, between the analytics guys and the pro scouting guys, and I'm going to consider every single one of them. But I have to look at the big picture and it is my responsibility that my family expects and my partners expect not just to look at the present, but to look at the future, too. Three, four, five years from now, we've got a lot of homegrown kids that we love, our fans love, that are going to be coming up for free agency and that's something I've got to keep in mind as well."

The Yanks have been more closely connected to Machado this offseason, meeting with him in December. Meanwhile, general manager Brian Cashman did his part to quash any speculation that the Yanks were secretly in on Harper, noting that the club already has a glut of outfielders.

If there's still any chance that Harper could become a Yankee, Aaron Judge is willing to do what it takes to make that possibility a reality. Judge told TMZ Sports on Monday that he would consider moving to center field to clear a spot for Harper, if that was indeed something that could put New York over the top in the Harper sweepstakes.

"Wherever he wants to play, we'll make it work," Judge said. "Anytime you can add an MVP to a team, it's going to make it better."

Tweet from @MLB: Is the outfield at Yankee Stadium big enough? https://t.co/djpnbm1PnR pic.twitter.com/Z4ImkOebr5