The Bryce Harper saga was expected to be nearing its conclusion with multiple reports stating the most sought-after free agent in baseball this offseason had made a decision about his next destination. The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to win the race after making the biggest offer.

But it seems the race is still wide open for Harper’s signature as there was no signature on the dotted line yet. According to MLB insider John Heyman, the saga for the outfielder’s services could drag on for several more days, with the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox and probably the Washington Nationals also still in the running.

The Nationals seem to have been ruled out on a number of occasions after Harper rejected their $300 million over 10 years offer before entering free agency in 2018. But Heyman claimed the team could still have a chance if it made a late offer that trumps the other teams in the running.

One thing is clear - Harper will not sign a short-term contract. The 2015 MVP is looking for a long-term deal and it was reported Sunday the Phillies had tabled an offer of around $310 million over 10 years which the player was considering.

But on Monday, former Nationals and Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden revealed Harper was most likely to sign a record-breaking deal in the coming days, one topping Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million 13-year deal that he received from the Miami Marlins in 2014.

“Bryce Harper wants to win, and that’s something that was on his list at the very beginning. And I think he views the Phillies as a team that’s pretty close,” Bowden said during his appearance on CBS Sports.

Bryce Harper
The Phillies continue to lead the race to land Bryce Harper - the most sought-after free agent in baseball. In this picture, Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., July 16, 2018. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“I know Harper can see himself between [first baseman] Rhys Hoskins and [catcher] J.T. Realmuto in the middle of the lineup,” the former general manager added.

While Bowden also installed the Phillies as the favorites, he admitted it could all change within a matter of days, especially with super-agent Scott Boras representing the in-demand free agent. Harper has met with all the teams that are pursuing him and at the moment, it looks like he will sign with the team that will give him a chance to win – if not next season in the coming years - and the best deal possible.

Meanwhile, the Manny Machado chase has been comparatively quiet over the last couple of days after it looked like the White Sox, who were said to be leading the race, upped their offer from the $200 million they had reportedly first offered.

The Chicago franchise, however, could be on the verge of losing out their major offseason target after the Padres stepped up their efforts this week by reportedly making a concrete offer for the shortstop. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, their offers are around $240 million and $280 million over eight years each, respectively.

If it is the latter, that could mean an annual average salary of around $35 million and will be something of a record. And moreover, it was claimed the fee would also include a large signing bonus and deferred money to circumvent California’s high tax rate.