Friday night we learned that the plane belonging to Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton was on the ground in Las Vegas, home to free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. And, there was "optimism" that the Phillies and Harper were getting closer to a deal. Those up at 3:00 a.m. last night as the wind howled in the Delaware Valley found out there was some new competition.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers visit to Harper in Las Vegas:
A source has told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that the Dodgers are back in play for free-agent superstar Bryce Harper. The development throws another twist into the chase for Harper, which had appeared to be down to the Phillies, Giants, White Sox and Nationals, though Philadelphia had appeared to be the heavy favorite to sign the outfielder.
This said "had" in the past tense. Does this mean that the Dodgers are all-in?
Also Sunday night, we learned that the San Francisco Giants may have made a long-term deal for Harper:
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) February 25, 2019
Previous reports suggested that the Giants were only willing to go short-term. It is unclear the level of the interest the Dodgers have at the moment. After signing A.J. Pollock, the Dodgers appeared to be out. The Dodgers, right up against the luxury tax threshold, would have a real cost of a Harper deal much greater than it would appear, once penalties are factored in. After falling short in the World Series two years in a row, might the Dodgers be willing to go for broke?
The Dodgers recently learned that pitcher Clayton Kershaw had a setback with his shoulder inflammation. The Dodgers could be worried that their one-time ace will cost the club some wins with an injury and might be setting their sites elsewhere, despite claims Kershaw will be ready for Opening Day. But again, the cost would be high to add Harper to their offense.
Of course, engaging in conversations with other teams could drive up the price for the Phillies. Even if teams are not willing to go 10 years with Harper, offering a higher average annual value to Harper could bring Harper's total compensation up with the Phillies. Harper's agent Scott Boras reportedly is looking for a 10-year deal and one that beats the $325 mark that Giancarlo Stanton received from the Miami Marlins in 2014.