It appears that manager Dusty Baker may be driving a hard bargain in his contract negotiations with the Reds.
Baker is in the final year of a three-year contract that carries a $3.5 million annual salary. He was offered what is believed to be a multi-year extension in mid-August but is taking his time accepting. Probably because his Reds are just a couple days away from locking up their first playoff berth since 1995 and Baker can capitalize on that success.
“We’re talking,” Baker said before Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. “Negotiations don’t
just happen overnight sometimes, especially when you’re in a pennant
As noted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds went 74-88 in Baker’s first year, 78-84 in Baker’s second year, and are now 84-65 — seven games above the Cardinals in the National League Central.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.