Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper to Nationals is gathering momentum despite Phillies meeting being fixed. In this picture, Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals, is greeted with high fives by teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Sept. 16, 2018. Kelly Kline/Getty Images

The Bryce Harper saga rumbles on with no decision from the player yet, but the pecking order among the interested franchises seems to be slowly taking shape as the most sought-after free agent and his agent look to land a record-setting deal.

There is under five weeks left before spring training begins and two of the most sought after free agents – Harper and Manny Machado – are yet to make a decision on their next destination.

The Washington Nationals were initially considered to be out of the race for their former player – Harper played for the Nationals between 2012 and 2018 – after he rejected their initial $300 million, 10-year contract offer. The Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be the front-runners at the time.

However, according to MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand, the momentum has shifted and it is now looking more likely that Harper would return to Nationals after they upped their initial offer.

“According to a source, there is momentum building toward Harper's return to Washington, while the Phillies — who are set to meet with Harper this week in Las Vegas — appear to be turning up their pursuit of Machado,” Feinsand wrote Wednesday.

The race for Harper is said to have come down to two teams — Nationals and Phillies — with the MLB insider claiming the White Sox, despite their interest, were not willing to write a check large enough to tempt Harper or his agent Scott Boras to look their way.

Phillies owner John Middleton did confirm earlier in the offseason that his team was ready to spend a stupid amount of money to land their preferred targets. The Philadelphia franchise will meet Harper face-to-face for the first time Saturday, but their main focus, however, was said to be Machado.

The Nationals have already offered the right-fielder an initial contract worth $300 million over 10 years, and Feinsand claimed that increasing the offer by another $25 or $30 million would not be too big a stretch for the franchise. And their offer would also meet Boras’ expectations of landing a record-setting deal for a free agent.

The report also claimed that Harper’s deal with the Nationals was likely to have an opt-out clause, which would allow him to enter free agency yet again when the 26-year-old turns 29 or 30.

However, according to another MLB insider John Morosi, despite the Nationals making headway in their pursuit of bringing Harper back to Nationals Park for the upcoming campaign, he felt the right-fielder could take his time in signing a new deal, predicting that this whole affair could drag well into February.