Optimism is high following the Phillies' meeting Saturday with Bryce Harper, with three officials describing the Phils as the clear-cut favorite to sign him, according to USA Today.
The way this week has shaped up, it seems more and more likely than at any point in the offseason that the Phillies will land either Harper or Manny Machado. Pursuits from the Dodgers of Harper and the Yankees of Machado do not appear as intense as they did a month ago.
The Yankees are already set to exceed the luxury tax threshold, which they want to avoid, and have enough infield options to win 100 games without Machado.
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The White Sox offer less of a chance to win than the Phillies. And given the expectations set for this offseason - some by the Phillies themselves - it's hard to see the White Sox outbidding the Phillies for Harper or Machado. What, then, would be the appeal of going there?
The Nationals have still been in the Harper sweepstakes, even though they've already spent themselves to the $200 million mark for 2019. But how far beyond their own reported 10-year, $300 million offer for Harper can they go? Another club the Phillies should be capable of outbidding.
So many more teams were thought to be interested in Harper and Machado. The perfect storm may have formed for the Phillies this offseason, with a titan like the Yankees taking a different route and the most aggressive competitor being the second-most important team in its own city of Chicago, with a ceiling of about 80-84 wins even with a superstar.
The developments this week could be rapid. Machado has long been expected to sign with a team first, but the Harper process is well underway.
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