After failing to agree to a long-term contract extension with the Padres this offseason Chase Headley explained that the two sides “weren’t on the same page” and added that “this close to free agency, it has to be a good deal for us.”
Two months later Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that “Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler has given general manager Josh Byrnes the go-ahead to begin negotiations” with Headley and “the club is willing to make Headley the highest-paid player in franchise history.”
Of course, while “the highest-paid player in franchise history” sounds impressive it doesn’t actually mean a whole lot in this case, because the biggest contract in Padres history belongs to Jake Peavy at $52 million. And, well, Chase Headley is going to want much more than $54 million to bypass becoming a free agent following next season.
Headley is making $8.575 million this season and is arbitration eligible for the final time in 2014, when he’ll be in line for more than $10 million. A lot may depend on what type of follow-up season he ends up having after a career-year in 2012, but at age 28 it’s hard to imagine Headley taking less than, say, six years and $90 million.
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.