Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has pieced together a nice retrospective on the Nationals’ late-April decision to promote Bryce Harper — the process and thinking that went into it, and quotes from Nats general manager Mike Rizzo about how it all played out. It’s worth the long read on a weekend without very much baseball news. Here’s a snippet:
On April 25, as the team he assembled prepared to play across the country in San Diego, Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo milled around a batting cage in Rochester, N.Y. He had flown from Washington the previous day with an intention he shared with few others, one of the organization’s most crucial tasks in 2012.
As the Syracuse Chiefs took batting practice, Bryce Harper spotted Rizzo and shook his hand.
“You’re here to bring me to the big leagues,” Harper said to Rizzo. “Aren’t you?”
Harper wound up batting .270/.340/.477 with 22 home runs and 18 steals in 139 games for Washington. The 20-year-old was named a National League All-Star in July and won Rookie of the Year honors in November.
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.