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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —The minute the Boston Red Sox closed out the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series, the eyes of the baseball world turned to a free agent class that features two of the biggest names in the sport: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
The debate over where the stars would land has raged for months, and according to a new column from USA Today Sports MLB insider Bob Nightengale, the Phillies are the leaders in the clubhouse for Harper.
In the piece, Nightengale lays out his reasoning that is based on a couple of factors. First, and possibly the most important, is the recent report that Harper had rejected a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals to remain in Washington. As Nightengale notes, the Nationals were thought to be able to retain Harper up until that report.
With Harper now shopping around for his new destination, several suitors have been named. However, there are reasons that each, outside of the Phillies, are basically eliminated from contention.
“The Chicago Cubs don’t want to spend the money unless someone takes Jason Heyward or Yu Darvish off their hands.
The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have interest.
The St. Louis Cardinals don’t have bright lights.
The San Francisco Giants are changing course.”
That leaves the Phillies, who Nightengale says are the expected destination for Harper among the majority of baseball people.
“Bank on it,” Nightengale wrote of the Phillies signing Harper.
The 26-year-old outfielder posted the second-worst batting average of his career last season at .249, but he also walked a career-high 130 times while hitting 34 homers and driving in 100 runs. Harper has performed well at Citizens Bank Park in his career, hitting 14 of his 184 career home runs at CBP, which is good for the second-highest total of any ball park he’s played in behind his home stadium.