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Phillies reportedly ‘heavy favorite’ to sign Bryce Harper

While the Chicago White Sox are said to still be in the mix in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly are the front-runners to sign the free-agent slugger, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Both the White Sox and Phillies are among the few teams publicly in the hunt for Harper’s services, although the former is believed to have not yet made Harper a former offer. The Washington Nationals, Nightengale notes, may no longer be among Harper’s options, despite reportedly putting a 10-year, $284 million contract on the table.

The Phillies have long been considered the top contender to sign Harper, going all the way back to before the start of the 2018 MLB season.

The notion that Harper could ultimately end up in Philadelphia was further enhanced with how well his recent meeting in Las Vegas with team brass was said to have gone. Harper and Gabe Kapler reportedly “hit it off” during the meeting, and the Phillies skipper later revealed the two bonded over Philadelphia’s food scene, among other things.

The fact that Harper took a liking to Kapler is certainly encouraging for the Phillies, although terms of any potential deal — both in money and length — obviously remain primary considerations for the superstar.

All that said, until Harper officially makes his announcement, any suggestion of where he may sign is a matter of speculation, as is the case with Manny Machado, another high-profile free agent who strangely remains unsigned at this late date.

The relative lack of action in free agency — especially in the cases of Harper and Machado — inspired one baseball writer to argue it’s a “disgrace” that few teams are attempting to sign the superstars. Whether that’s a bit hyperbolic or not, it’s arguably confounding the two superstars are still on the market.