Bryce Harper, one of the most coveted free agents of the Major League Baseball offseason, will meet Thursday night with officials from the San Diego Padres.
The San Diego Union-Tribune cited a source that said the meeting with Harper would take place in Las Vegas, his hometown. Harper played high school baseball at Las Vegas High School and then at College of Southern Nevada.
The Athletic first reported the news on Harper, 26, while MLB.com wrote the Padres are one of four teams pursuing the right fielder.
#Padres officials meeting today or tomorrow with Bryce Harper in Las Vegas, sources tell The Athletic. Meeting expected to include ownership representatives.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2019
However, the Union-Tribune reported the Padres are more interested in free agent Manny Machado, who plays third base, the team’s biggest need, and are only talking Harper for due diligence.
Signing either player would be a major step for the small-market Padres, who have seemed to be in a rebuilding mode since losing the World Series to the Yankees in 1998. They have had 10 losing seasons since last making the playoffs (2006).
Harper, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 MVP, led Washington with 34 homers, 100 RBIs and 130 walks last season. He also tied for the team lead with 103 runs and made the All-Star team for the sixth time in his seven seasons.
Associated Press contributed to this report. Bill Bradley can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-7909.