Phillies, Middleton to Meet With Harper This Weekend

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

With exactly 80 days until Opening Day — and just weeks until spring training — time is running out for the Philadelphia Phillies to finalize their roster. The same can be said for free agents themselves who have yet to ink a deal with a new club for the 2019 campaign.

Among those free agents, of course, is superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Last Wednesday, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported that Harper and the Phillies would meet in the veteran slugger's hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Five days later, we now know when exactly that meeting will take place.

According to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale, the Phillies front office — Managing Partner John Middleton included — will fly to the Sin City this Saturday, January 12, to meet with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras. The meeting will be the first time both sides engage in contract negotiations face-to-face; both sides are said to be in the "early stage" of discussions, per Nightengale's source.

Nightengale writes:

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak met with Boras during the winter meetings in Las Vegas to discuss the player, but Harper and his wife, Kayla, did not attend.

This will be the third known team that Harper has talked directly with during his free agency. He earlier spoke to the Chicago White Sox in Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Harper met with White Sox president Ken Williams and GM Rick Hahn, along with Hall of Famer Jim Thome, in November, but White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf did not attend the meeting. It’s unknown which Dodger officials attended the meeting with Harper and Boras in mid-November.

Club president Andy MacPhail, Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler will also attend, according to Salisbury, who writes "one of the matters Phillies officials want to discuss with Harper is his desire to play for the Phillies" amid reports that suggest otherwise.

Middleton attending the meeting is interesting, especially following his comments that the Phillies are "expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."

While the Phillies meet with Harper, they remain among the favorites to land Manny Machado as well. The offseason is in the latter stages, and yet the 2019 Phillies roster could be drastically different — in a good way — in the not too distant future if either Harper, Machado, or both are acquired.

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