The latest in the merry-go-round is from ESPN's Buster Olney, who on Thursday revealed the new prevalent opinion from basketball executives is that Machado will sign with the Phillies while Harper will return to the Washington Nationals.
"Baseball execs are baseball fans at heart, and they wonder, too, about where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign," Olney wrote. "Most common guesses -- informed speculation -- that I've heard from folks within the game: Machado to the Phillies, Harper back to the Nationals."
ESPN’s Buster Olney spoke with several MLB executives about the Harper and Machado sweepstakes, and the general consensus is that Machado will end up with the Philadelphia Phillies with Harper re-signing with the Washington Nationals.
The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers all seem to be out on both Harper and Machado.
The Phillies have made it known that they are willing to spend big this winter, though they seem to be proceeding as if they could miss out on Harper and Machado.
Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner's candid interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday drew widespread publicity, as Lerner acknowledged that the reported 10-year, $300 million offer Bryce Harper rejected at the end of the regular season was "the best we can do," and indicated that he didn't expect the free-agent outfielder to be back.
But ESPN's Buster Olney still isn't counting out a Harper-Nats reunion.
"Before anyone completely slams the door shut, it's worth remembering: Stuff happens," Olney wrote in his latest column for ESPN+ (subscription required). "Negotiations take many twists and turns, and if there is one lasting tether between any organization and a particular agent right now, it's between Harper's representative, Scott Boras, and the Nationals."
As Olney points out, Boras has a long history of negotiating with Washington, as he has represented past and present Nationals such as Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon, among others.
Olney compares Harper to another Boras client, Bernie Williams, who seemed prepared to leave the Yankees in free agency after the 1998 season, only to re-sign with New York when owner George Steinbrenner agreed to increase his offer from $60 million to $87.5 million. That was enough to get Williams to return, even though he had an offer for slightly more money ($91 million) from the rival Red Sox.
Which is something I've been thinking for a while, BTW.https://nypost.com/2018/12/01/the-nl-east-is-baseballs-most-intriguing-division/
I am surprised how many executives and agents I speak to feel Harper still ends up back here (and Machado in Philadelphia).