Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper is likely to sign a record-breaking deal in the coming weeks . In this picture, Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals waits for the pitch from the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia on September 15, 2018. Kelly Kline/GettyImages

The Manny Machado saga finally came to an end Tuesday after the in-demand shortstop reportedly agreed to a deal worth $300 million over 10-years with the San Diego Padres in what will come as a bitter blow to the Chicago White Sox, who thought themselves to be the favorites for his signature.

All eyes will now be on Bryce Harper – the most sought after free agent in baseball this offseason – and there remains no doubt that he will sign a mega-deal on better terms than Machado. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden is certain that the right-fielder will sign a record-breaking contract, which will top Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year $325 million deal signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014.

"Look, the Phillies were in on Manny Machado," Bowden said talking to CBS Sports. "They wanted either Harper or Machado. But Machado went to San Diego and he realized Philadelphia wasn't going to happen because they're going down the road here with Harper."

"When Harper's deal is all said and done, it will be north of Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million deal," he said. "It will be north of Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million deal."

The Philadelphia Phillies have been installed as favorites since their meeting with Harper and his agent in January and owing to their financial clout it remains unlikely that any other interested team will be able to outbid them.

However, there seems to be a small hiccup, with SNY’s Danny Abriano reporting that the right-fielder is unsure if he wants to play in Philadelphia. Moreover, it is claimed that Harper was the Phillies’ second choice after Machado and general manager Matt Klentak revealed that $300 million for the shortstop was beyond their valuation.

“Although their pursuit of him is serious, word around Harper is that he remains unsure if he wants to play in Philadelphia," Martino said, while adding that Philadelphia has to convince him to sign in order to save face, especially after owner John Middleton admitted that they were willing to spend stupid money this offseason.

Apart from the Phillies, the other suitors for Harper are the White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals and the Padres. The first among the aforementioned quartet is unlikely to make a record-breaking offer after Kenny Williams, their executive vice-president, admitted that they could “not go to that $300 million level” for Machado, who was their priority target.

The Giants, meanwhile, are only willing to offer Harper a lucrative short-term deal, which he is unlikely to accept, especially after seeing Machado finally land a contract that met his demands. The Nationals, on the other hand, have already been turned down once – their offer was $300 million over 10-years – before Harper entered free agency, but general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday that they are still keen on re-signing the outfielder, which could pose a big threat to the Phillies.

Finally, the Padres were the late entrants into the race for Harper and Machado. They stepped up when it counted and landed Machado much to the surprise of many and it is now being claimed by MLB insider John Heyman that they are not ruling out a move for Harper.

“Padres are pulling off one surprise (once Manny’s finalized) but here’s another shocker: they aren’t ruling out Bryce Harper, too. 110M payroll (with MM) is still lower than most,” Heyman wrote.

After the conclusion of the Machado saga, the bidding war for Harper is likely to get intense in the coming days, with the Phillies and Nationals considered to now be the frontrunners for his signature. But the emergence of a mystery team in the Harper sweepstakes can never be ruled out.