LOS ANGELES – Philadelphia Phillies, and not the Washington Nationals, has emerged as the clear favorite to sign the franchisor outfielder Bryce Harper after meeting him for five hours on Saturday in Las Vegas, said three US officials today Sports.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of ongoing negotiations, but Phillies has become the most aggressive team in their pursuit of Harper, while citizens' interest seems to be declining. National leaders now call a reunion with Harper a "long shot".

Philliesne, who is also interested in signing the free agent infantry Manny Machado, has not yet made an official offer to Harper, but is convinced that they will sign at least one of the two free agent megastars. They were greatly encouraged at their chances of signing Harper after meeting with him, his wife and agent Scott Boras in Harper's hometown. It was their first face-to-face meeting that included two slide show presentations of Phillies. They are expected to make a formal offer within a week.

Chicago White Sox and Nationals showed strong interest in Harper early in the winter, but White Sox has not yet made an offer for Harper, and Nats has not formally engaged with Harper for almost a month.