The Bryce Harper sweepstakes has been quietly playing out in Las Vegas.
The Yankees are one of a dozen teams that have visited or plan on visiting the 26-year-old slugger in his hometown, Yahoo Sports reports. Some of those meetings will take place during next week’s Winter Meetings, which will see all of baseball’s decision-makers descend on Sin City.
It’s unclear if the Yankees, who have been loosely linked to both Manny Machado and Harper, are among the group that have already met with him or will do so at a later date. The Yankees are currently waiting on lefty starter Patrick Corbin to decide on his next team after meeting with the Phillies, Nationals and Yankees last week.
One team that has certainly met with Harper already is the Dodgers. Yahoo reported that team representatives, including part-owner Magic Johnson, were among the contingent to talk with the 2015 MVP. The Phillies have long been considered one of the Harper favorites, and trading Carlos Santana to the Mariners on Monday opened up a spot in their outfield with Rhys Hoskins now able to move over to first base.
The Yankees’ opening for Harper is not as clear. They have Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks for their three outfield spots, plus at-bats at DH. The team has spoken more openly about Machado, who would seem to be more of a logical fit on the left side of their infield.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was asked again about Machado and his now-infamous “Johnny Hustle” comments in a recent interview with YES Network.
“The narrative is banged enough this winter since the postseason,” Cashman said. “I don’t want it to become a runaway train. Regardless of where Machado ends up, he’ll be a great player. He’s been an elite player for a long time.
“We’ve seen what he’s done both offensively and defensively up close. … When you’re dealing with the larger media, you are permitted to have some mistakes. … I am sure it wasn’t his best moment, but I am not sure it’s the moment that should define him, either. We’ll navigate this free-agent market and see where it takes us.”
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