The San Diego Padres are meeting with free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper on Thursday night, according to multiple reports.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted the meeting is expected to include representatives of Padres ownership and will occur in Las Vegas.
San Diego has a crowded outfield situation with Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes and Travis Jankowski already listed on the roster, but are doing “due diligence” by talking to one of the two biggest names on the market.
The Padres are also talking to the other big offseason target, third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado according to reports last week, but a meeting has not taken place, reported MLB.com’s Jon Morosi.
The 2019 free agent market has been a slow one, especially at the top, much like it was in 2018. Serious talks for the services of Harper and Machado have yet to emerge, but there are reports Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, have met with other teams recently.
The Padres are no stranger to Boras, having signed his client first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal last offseason.
But Harper has already turned down a reported 10-year, $300 million deal from the Washington Nationals, the only team he has played for.
The 26-year-old left-handed batter hit .249 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs over 159 games in 2018. But he’s played 118 or fewer games three times in seven seasons.
His peak year was 2015 at age 22, when he hit .330 with 42 homers and 118 runs scored in 153 games. He was voted National League MVP that season.
Machado, also represented by Boras, has been a steadier presence in the heart of the lineup, playing 156 games or more in five of the past six seasons.
The right-handed batter hit .297 with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers last season, with 37 home runs and 107 driven in. The 26-year-old has hit 33 homers or more each season since 2015, but never drove in 100 until 2018.
–Field Level Media