Padres Join Bryce Harper Race, At Least One Team ‘Remains Involved on Periphery’

The Padres may have decided to just go full Frank Castle on this free-agent market. They’ve engaged with Manny Machado and remain in the mix to trade for Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, but now they’re going even bigger. According to Ken Rosenthal, San Diego executives and ownership reps are expected to meet with Bryce Harper in Las Vegas either Thursday or Friday.

Rosenthal subsequently tweeted that, while there’s no indication a deal is close, Harper and Scott Boras have held second or third meetings with “a number of clubs.”

That’s interesting phrasing, since the indication here is that Rosenthal is talking about more than just two teams. And that doesn’t include the Padres, so there might actually be four or more teams involved at this point. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi confirmed that there are four known teams, with the White Sox in there as well.

Ah, but Morosi also stated that “at least one other team remains involved on periphery.” So who is it/are they? Probably not the Yankees, who seem to have ruled out any more big pursuits this winter. The Dodgers appear to have likewise eliminated themselves following the signing of AJ Pollock. Besides, team president Stan Kasten recently told fans “there are a lot of advantages to being under [the CBT].” That’s a bigger load of crap than Dr. Ellie Sattler would be willing to dig through, but suffice to say it means LA doesn’t want to spend more.

As much as know you’re tired of hearing about it sans any real evidence, I think we have to assume the Cubs are among those peripheral teams still engaged with Harper’s camp. We’ve already heard they were more “in” than they were letting on and that they’d asked Boras to circle back before signing elsewhere, so the Cubs could easily be one of the group Rosenthal and Morosi indicated.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s do a little circumstantial internet sleuthing to make the tea leaves say what we want. We know Boras talked about this being a submarine race, right? And how Theo Epstein has an excellent poker face? Given all that, this recent Instagram post by Epstein’s wife, Marie Whitney, could be pumped full of additional significance.

“In a world where everyone else is overexposed, the coolest thing you can do is maintain your mystery,” the image reads. She captioned it, “Just gonna leave this right here.”

The intrigue, it builds.

Update: Rosenthal tweeted that the meeting between Harper and the Padres would take place Thursday night, while ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted at roughly the same time that the meeting “is about to start this afternoon.” Given the accuracy of Passan’s sourced info since joining the 4-Letter, I’m going with Rosenthal in this case. Not that it matters, since both say it’s going down Thursday.

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