Phils focused on Harper after meeting in Vegas

January 13th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies spent Saturday with , his wife Kayla, his agent Scott Boras and a few others in Las Vegas.
They came away impressed.
Two sources told on Sunday that the Phillies' presentation and meeting went well. So well, in fact, that the Phillies might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to Harper, although it is unknown if the club made a formal contract offer to Harper before leaving town. The Phillies' contingent consisted of managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, manager Gabe Kapler and assistant general manager Ned Rice. The same group, plus others, made a similar pitch to Machado late last month at Citizens Bank Park.
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Machado has a formal offer on the table.
"I think it was really positive," Middleton told 6ABC outside the Philadelphia airport late Saturday night.
"Yeah, I do, too," Klentak said.
Machado has been the Phillies' No. 1 choice since the beginning of the offseason because of his combination of offense and elite defense at third base, while Harper has been the people's choice because of his offensive prowess and immense star power. Of course, Saturday's developments do not mean the Phillies will not sign Machado. They still might. Negotiations, good or bad, can change quickly with one text or phone call. But one source said the Phillies left Vegas remarkably impressed with Harper and his wife.
The Phillies have been optimistic for the past couple weeks that they will sign one of the two superstars. They not only have the most money to pay Harper or Machado, but they also have few competitors for them. USA Today reported that Nationals executives are characterizing their chances to retain Harper as "a long shot." Teams like the White Sox and Dodgers have been linked to Harper, but they might not have the money to throw at Harper, like the Phillies. The White Sox and Yankees have been linked to Machado, but they again might not have the money the Phillies can offer.
A third source said recently that the Phillies know they must make a significant upgrade to their roster to keep up with the Nationals, Braves and Mets in the National League East. Each team either played better than the Phillies last season, made notable improvement this offseason or both.
Harper would help.
"We got to understand the man," Middleton told 6ABC about Harper. "We got to understand what he'd be like in the dugout, the clubhouse and the community. He and his wife are really an impressive young couple."
"It was really impressive to spend some time with him, get to know him better, answer his questions, and we got to ask some questions, learn about him, and I think that's a really important step in any negotiation is kind of understanding what the other party is looking for. And now we'll see where it takes us," Klentak said.