San Diego Padres

Padres enter Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but are they legit players?

The San Diego Padres are meeting with Bryce Harper, but are they legit players in the mix to sign him?

For the second straight offseason, the MLB free agent market has been remarkably slow as teams aren’t ponying up big money. Bryce Harper remains available as the calendar approaches February, with a narrowing list of suitors. But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the San Diego Padres have scheduled a meeting with Harper in Las Vegas Thursday night.

The Padres seem ready to be aggressive this offseason, as a rumored trade suitor for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and with reported interest in setting up a meeting with Manny Machado. Their interest in Harper is a little surprising, but as part of an overall plan to supplement a great pipeline of young talent with notable veteran additions, it’s not that far-fetched.

Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million deal to stay with the Washington Nationals before becoming a free agent. It’s assumed he’s still looking for that kind of deal, at least in length and surely for a little more money.

The Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox have joined the Nationals as common prominent suitors for Harper, and now the Padres seem to be legitimately in the fray.

Despite being part of an apparent “final four” of sorts, with a mystery team apparently out there, it’s unclear if the Padres are in serious pursuit of Harper or just doing some due diligence in a slow free agent market. But Rosenthal added that “ownership representatives” were expected to be part of the contingent that traveled to Harper’s home town for the meeting. That points to more than a passing interest, and a comprehensive attempt to sell Harper on the great parts of playing in San Diego and living there during the season.

The Padres would seem to be a long shot to sign Harper, but three reporters have put them firmly in the mix above most other teams. Until he signs, they can’t be ruled out and credit to them for operating aggressively overall.

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