Manny Machado made a pre-Christmas pilgrimage to Philadelphia to visit with Phillies officials. Now, with a new year upon us, the Phillies brass are the ones hitting the road to look to woo Bryce Harper back to Philadelphia. Harper lives in Vegas and has takes somewhat of a standoffish approach to the Phillies, who are thought to covet infielder Manny Machado more than they do Harper.
Can anything be read into Harper making the Phillies come to him? Not likely. While Machado made publicized visits to Chicago, New York and Philadelphia before Christmas, Harper has taken more of a low-profile approach. He met with as many as 12 teams just prior or during the Winter Meetings, which were also held in Las Vegas, but hasn’t made a tour to visit clubs like Machado did.
Another factor is that Machado simply isn’t as familiar with Philadelphia, having played just seven games at Citizens Bank Park in his career, where he has hit .179/.281/.393 with one home run and one RBI. Of course, Harper having spent his entire career thus far with division rival Washington, is no stranger to the City of Brotherly Love (50 games, 14-32-.268/.365/.564) and The Bank.
Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, have done and said all the right things about Philadelphia during the offseason. Harper has talked about enjoying his trips to town, while Boras complimented owner John Middleton and his desire to put together a team that can win now and for the foreseeable future. Obviously, the stench of the J.D. Drew stalemate has worn off of both Boras and the Phillies.
It’s likely that the Phillies will hand over an official offer to Harper in their Saturday meeting, just as they did with Machado when he visited Philadelphia. The odds that he says “yes” on the spot are slim and none, but it would be a big win for the Phillies if he did. Instead, it’s likely that Harper will continue to wait out the process and possibly entice another team or two into the bidding. As for when either player will sign, it’s anybody’s guess. There were some thoughts that Machado may make his decision shortly after the holidays, but so far, there’s no news.
The Phillies contingent to Vegas will include Middleton, team president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler. It’s believed those four were also the four members of the Phillies front office that met with Machado when he visited Philadelphia.