Phillies Planning to Meet with Bryce Harper, Nationals Still Very Much in Picture

You’d think turning the calendar to a new year would have provided additional clarity to the Bryce Harper situation, but that’s far from the case. If anything, the water has gotten even murkier as reports have surfaced that the Phillies — who it’s been said Harper isn’t high on — are planning to meet with the outfielder in person after a Winter Meetings powwow with just Scott Boras.

Then there’s the latest out of Washington, which is that Harper and Boras met with Nationals owner Ted Lerner for five hours back on December 22. That comes from Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, who cited a person with direct knowledge of the situation but was unable to confirm with multiple people from the organization. As you may recall, Nats managing principle owner Mark Lerner admitted back in early December that there was “too much money out there” for Harper to return.

Perhaps the meeting with the elder Lerner was simply a gesture of respect, though such a summit probably would not have included Boras and certainly wouldn’t have lasted so long. More likely is an attempt to get the Nationals’ nonagenarian patriarch to fork over a monster deal without consulting his son or his general manager. And Boras did say at the Winter Meetings that they’d met with one owner without the knowledge of his GM.

Then you’ve got the report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who wrote Wednesday that “Harper has met multiple times with representatives of the Washington Nationals, according to a club source, and the possibility of a return to the place he spent the first seven years of his career persists.”

While we’re at it, let’s toss in the note from Bruce Levine that the While Sox are unwilling to offer more than seven years to either Harper or Manny Machado. But that doesn’t square with Steve Phillips’ series of tweets from earlier in the week concluding that the White Sox are the only team “IN” on Harper. Nor should it, since Phillips made little sense.

Anywho, the point is that we’re no closer to determining Harper’s destination than we were yesterday or the day before. So maybe Boras really was joking when he said prior to the start of free agency that the decision was already made. Or was he?

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