MLB rumors: Phillies ‘clear-cut favorite’ to sign Bryce Harper after Las Vegas meeting

Pitchers and catchers report in one month, and we are still waiting on the two biggest names in this year’s free agency to sign. While this offseason drags on — and we hopefully get closer to a Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado signing — we’ll keep you updated on all the latest rumors and transactions. Here’s everything you need to know from the second Sunday of January.

Phillies the favorite after meeting with Harper

After a face-to-face meeting in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper, his agent Scott Boras and his wife Kayla on Saturday, the Philadelphia Phillies have emerged as “the clear-cut favorite” to sign Harper, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Nightengale reported that executives of the Nationals, who are hoping to bring Harper back to D.C. this winter, now consider that reunion a “long shot.”

The Phillies contingent for Saturday’s meeting included owner John Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler. The meeting reportedly lasted for five hours before the group flew back to Philadelphia.

Jeff Skversky of 6 ABC Philly spoke to both Middleton and Klentak after they landed back in the City of Brotherly Love. Middleton told Skversky that the meeting was “really positive,” and that they “got to understand what [Bryce] would be like for the clubhouse and community.”

With Middleton having confirmed what baseball fans had long speculated — his team was ready to spend “and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it” — the Phillies may be the best landing spot for Harper if he wants a record-setting contract.

Nats officially sign Dozier, designate Reynolds

The Washington Nationals officially announced the signing of free-agent second baseman Brian Dozier on Sunday. The Nats agreed to terms on a one-year, $9 million contract with Dozier and in a corresponding roster move, designated infielder Matt Reynolds for assignment.

With Dozier as their second baseman, the Nationals addressed their biggest remaining roster question outside of Bryce Harper. Dozier, 31, split last season between the Twins and Dodgers, hitting .215/.305/.391 (88 OPS+) with 21 home runs in 632 plate appearances. He hit 34 home runs in 2017 and 42 home runs in 2016. Dozier did not rank among our top 50 free agents. He joins Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez, and Trevor Rosenthal as notable Nationals’ offseason additions.

Reynolds, 28, spent little time in the big leagues last season (14 plate appearances) and holds a .635 OPS in 240 career major-league plate appearances, but he played every position beside pitcher and catcher in the minors. At the Triple-A level, Reynolds hit a solid .265/.355/.424 in 355 plate appearances.

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