Bryce Harper rumors: Phillies might not have as much competition as assumed

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Notes, quotes and observations as baseball’s annual general managers meetings come to a close and what promises to be a busy, newsy Phillies offseason heats up.

• Will Carlos Santana be traded?

• The latest on trade talks involving Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco.

• Will the Phillies land the reliever they wanted at the trade deadline?

The general consensus at the GM meetings had the Phillies as favorites to land Bryce Harper. The Phils have the interest and the money and the competition for Harper might not be as fierce as expected with the Dodgers and Cubs watching payroll, the Giants still formulating an offseason plan, and the Yankees giving off vibes that they will not pursue the player. Of course, everything is fluid at this time of year and things can change with one phone call.

Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, scoffed at reports saying the Yankees would sit out the Harper sweepstakes.

“I remember they put out that same thing about Mark Teixeira in October or November (2008),” Boras said. “And if I were them, I’d put that out, too. Look, this is a submarine race, not a regatta. You do not want other teams knowing you’re interested in a generational player.”

Teixeira signed an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees before the 2009 season.

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More on the Phillies

You may have seen this photo people are freaking out about; it’s nothing to worry about, right?

White Sox setting up at the United Center for Bryce Harper 👀👀👀— Red Line Radio (@RedLineRadio) November 8, 2018

Someone snapped this suggestive White Sox photo at Chicago’s United Center, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, and it has been making the rounds on social media. It was deleted from its original location, but the magic of the internet — and screenshots — have brought it back to life.

To add more to this story, Chicago White Sox phenom pitcher Michael Kopech posted a weird message on his Instagram about what the number 34 means to him, which is the number Harper wore in Washington and the same number shown on the marquee in Chicago.

What does it all mean?

Originally, I thought the photo from the United Center meant absolutely nothing, but Kopech’s IG post from Oct. 30 makes me wonder if the White Sox asked him for permission to pitch the number to Harper.

On Wednesday, we saw a number of reports that the Phillies were in a great position to sign the highly coveted outfielder (see story), but the White Sox are definitely a team that can offer something similar to what the Phillies can.

Ultimately, I don’t think this is anything to worry about. It’s no secret that a number of teams are pitching Harper and the image from the United Center could have been a Blackhawks employee having fun or playing a prank, for all we know.

Sometime soon, the speculation will be over and Harper will either be the most-beloved baseball player in Philadelphia or the most-hated player on any opposing team.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

On this edition of At The Yard, Jim Salisbury (from California) and Corey Seidman give you the latest from the GM meetings.

Should the Phillies be considered the favorites to land Bryce Harper? How will Manny Machado’s poor October affect his free agency?

Also, a look at which players from the 2018 roster may not make it back to Philadelphia next season.

1:00 – Harper’s free agency.8:30 – Pitching options for the Phillies.18:00 – Machado’s free-agent outlook after a poor October.22:00 – Are the Phillies OK with Scott Kingery or J.P. Crawford at SS?24:30 – What’s Maikel Franco’s future?27:00 – Will Carlos Santana get traded this offseason?

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