By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor
All eyes are on Philadelphia Phillies ownership and the front office to ink a deal with at least one of the top two free agents this offseason — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Fans are itching for a deal to become official, especially given spring training in Clearwater, Florida is just weeks away. So much so, rumors ignited Tuesday on social media regarding the Phillies "nearing a deal" to sign Harper.
Wednesday, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury spoke with Phillies Vice President and General Manager Matt Klentak, who said he was "definitely amused" seeing the frenzy regarding the six-time All-Star, Scott Boras-represented outfielder.
"I see a lot of it second-hand. I try to stay out of the fray. ... I woke up [Tuesday] morning to a bunch of 'congratulations' texts. I said, 'what are you congratulating me for?' and then I figured it out," Klentak said. "I'm plenty aware of it. Whether it's my friends, family or colleagues, everybody's talking about it."
"It's an exciting time for the Phillies."
There has been little to no verified reports in recent days, or weeks, regarding the latest happenings of the Phillies' progress in nearing a day for either Harper or Machado. Most of that can be attributed to the Phillies' preference to "guard" their negotiations.
"We've been pretty upfront about our pursuits with the high-profile free agents this year. I tend to keep the information about the status of the negotiations pretty guarded," Klentak said. "I don't think it's in our best interest to disclose much about that."
Klentak went on to tell Salisbury that he thinks the fans are "well aware" that the club is pursuing the top-end of this offseason's free agent class. The Phillies have already inked deals with a former Most Valuable Player in Andrew McCutchen, along with a 2009 World Series champion back-end reliever with a career 2.88 ERA in the American League in David Robertson. Not only are Harper and/or Machado possibilities, but other notable free agents in Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel and Mike Moustakas are also reportedly drawing interest from the Phillies.
Klentak said he and the Phillies "don't really know" when the free agency process "will resolve itself," and that it is "not 100 percent with anybody's control — not the Phillies, not any other team, and not the player or the agent."
"To reach a deal, it really takes multiple parties coming together to do that," Klentak said. "I have optimism [and] I am confident that we've put our best foot forward with these guys — both in the meetings that we had and in the subsequent dialogue that we've had.
"It's impossible to predict where someone's going to land or how much money they're going to make. I don't know the answer to that, but I'm very confident in our approach."