The easy way out for Bryce Harper would have been to work out something with the Nationals and return to Washington, where he was most comfortable. He could insist on staying closer to his Las Vegas home and sign a deal for fewer years with the Giants or some other club.
But it appears that Harper will land with the Phillies, after Philadelphia owner John Middleton -- who understands how invested his fan base is in the pursuit of the slugger -- got personal in the negotiations, getting on a plane to meet with agent Scott Boras and Harper. There is confidence within the Phillies' organization that it will land Harper. And it seems possible that Harper will wind up with the most lucrative contract in baseball history.
Along with the most money ever will come the most pressure ever, of course, and more scrutiny than any player has faced. To Phillies fans, Harper will be viewed as the guy who needs to be the difference-maker, and although he would be just one player among many the team acquired this winter -- following Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto and others -- Harper is destined to get the most credit, or the most blame.