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Middleton flew back to his home in Florida on Saturday after meeting with Harper and agent Scott Boras, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Even though the two sides did not finalize a contract, Breen noted the Phillies “feel optimistic” about signing Harper and that one reason Middleton stayed longer than intended is because both sides were still in negotiations.
ESPN’s Buster Olney later reported that contract talks between the Phillies and Harper could be “resolved by Tuesday.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale previously reported there is “optimism” that Harper and the Phillies will finalize a 10-year deal by Monday afternoon. Nightengale noted Middleton didn’t want to leave Las Vegas without securing a commitment from Harper.
Harper’s camp was also negotiating with two other teams, and there were “more to follow” after Middleton flew out to meet with the 2015 National League MVP, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
In an interview with NBC Sports Washington on Friday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner indicated Harper wouldn’t be returning to the team.
“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end,” Lerner said. “We’ve moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best.”
Heyman added some teams involved in negotiations with Harper have said his asking price for a deal is in the $350-360 million range.
If that comes to pass, Harper’s contract would be the largest in Major League Baseball history. It would surpass the $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton received from the Miami Marlins in November 2014.
Harper, 26, has been an All-Star six times in his seven MLB seasons. He hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI in 159 games for the Nationals in 2018.