A hush settled in over the baseball world recently, a polite quiet that allowed everyone a break for the holidays, at least on the outside. But as the calendar turned, the free agent market continued to churn, seemingly held in place by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, who simply will not make up their minds.
Machado’s market is taking shape, with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies emerging as legitimate suitors, according to reports. But Harper’s remains maddeningly unclear. The Washington Nationals remain the only team known to have made him a formal offer. And they may have circled back to him.
According to a person with direct knowledge of Harper’s process, the 26-year-old and his agent, Scott Boras, met with Nationals owner Ted Lerner for five hours on the Saturday before Christmas. Asked to confirm that this meeting happened, multiple people with the club refused to do so, a departure from their relative openness about their status with Harper this winter. On the record and off it, club officials have been willing to discuss the Harper situation because it seemed relatively uncomplicated until now: They made their offer. They put forth a legitimate effort to sign him. And he didn’t take it.