Is all the "stupid money" in the world enough for the Phillies to land free agent outfielder Bryce Harper? That might not even be enough. According to a report on Thursday morning, the Phillies are fading fast in the Bryce Harper derby, despite them perhaps offering the most money.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Phillies might not be able to convince Harper to play for them no matter what:
The Phillies, considered the heavy favorites all winter, still have the highest offer on the table, but may now be on the outside looking in. They are beginning to wonder whether Harper would sign ever there, no matter how much money they keep offering.
Failing to land Harper would be a major disappointment for the Phillies team and for their fanbase.
The Phillies, who already declined to match the $300 million, 10-year deal that infielder Manny Machado received from the San Diego Padres, expected to land one of either free agent superstar this winter. Their financial wherewithal was supposed to be what brought the club back to relevance this winter.
Even though the Phillies are much improved, they are still a couple moves from being strong playoff contenders. Adding Harper or Machado would greatly enhance those chances. Additionally, the Phillies fanbase whose interest was piqued once again in anticipation of adding a star player will feel played.
Should the Phillies lose out on Harper, they will have few opportunities to add a player with this kind of star power anytime soon. Third baseman Nolan Arenado, who would have been the star of next year's free agent class, signed a new eight-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.
Mike Trout may not make free agency, either. The Los Angeles Angels have had "internal discussions" about an extension with Trout. But also the club left Trout alone this winter to grieve the untimely death of his brother-in-law. So Trout could be off the board before free agency. That leaves the likes of third baseman Anthony Rendon and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as the crème of next year's crop. Goldschmidt will be 32 and plays the same position Rhys Hoskins just returned to. Rendon might not make free agency, either, since the Nationals reportedly will prioritize re-signing Rendon after losing Harper. Rendon is open to such an extension.
In short: The Phillies will still have stupid money and nothing to spend it on. And the fans will be very, very disappointed.