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Bryce Harper reaches 100 RBI for the first time in his career

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For the first time in his seven-year career, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has reached triple digits in RBI. The 25-year-old lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Adam Eaton in the bottom of the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Marlins, pushing the Nationals’ lead to 3-1.

Harper finished the 2015 season with a career-high 99 RBI en route to winning the NL MVP Award. His next-highest RBI total was 87 last year and 86 in ’16.

That a player as talented as Harper never reached 100 RBI prior to this year shows the fatal flaw in RBI as a statistic. Having a lot of RBI is very dependent on having RBI opportunities. Last year, Harper had the likes of Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, and a past-his-prime Jayson Werth batting in front of him — none of the three exactly mavens of reaching base, at least as far as last year is concerned. Harper, of course, has also struggled to stay healthy — he has crossed 140 games in a season just three times — which has also been a factor in his depressed RBI totals.

Harper is a free agent after the season. Due to sky-high expectations, his 2018 has often been thought of as a disappointment, but he entered Monday batting .245/.391/.495 with 34 homers, 98 runs scored, and 126 walks (tops in the majors). In this day and age, hitting 100 RBI won’t move the needle too much towards a payday, but it doesn’t hurt. Those other numbers, which are excellent, will do most of the talking.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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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.