By Sam Bush

If you’re reading the tea leaves about the Phils’ pursuit of free agent Bryce Harper, check this out: and MLB Network reported that Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension.

That is not only the highest average annual value for a position player in baseball history at $32.5 million per season, surpassing Miguel Cabrera’s $31 million average annual value in an eight-year, $248 million contract extension with the Tigers in 2014.

And it also may make it pricier for the Phils to bag Harper.

The Phils have considered Arenado and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon as free-agent options following the 2019 season, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts following the ’20 season and Francisco Lindor following the ’21 season.

So perhaps the Phillies feel more urgency to make a Harper deal happen, knowing this might be their best shot to land a star.

Harper’s agent Scott Boras probably saw Arenado’s $32.5 million AAV and smiled. He already wanted to beat Machado’s 10-year, $300 million contract signed last week with the Padres, and Giancarlo Stanton’s13-year, $325 million contract extension signed with the Marlins in 2014.

Boras will use Arenado’s deal to reinforce his contract demands.

But the Phillies still believe they are the only team willing to offer Harper more than $300 million. Will they feel compelled to bid against themselves to get a deal done?

There has been a sense that negotiations could wrap up before the end of the week, possibly within the next 24 to 48 hours.’s Mark Feinsand reported Monday that the Phillies remain the only team talking to Boras about a long-term deal for Harper. The Dodgers and Giants are believed to be in the mix on short-term contracts.

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