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Manny Machado and Bryce Harper pursuers get serious

Manny Machado’s and Bryce Harper’s free-agent suitors are getting serious.

Machado received an eight-year offer from the White Sox and is still on the Phillies’ radar, according to ESPN. Fancred reported Machado’s camp is saying there is a mystery third team also showing interest in the free-agent infielder.

Philadelphia also is becoming the front-runner for Harper, who according to reports had a five-hour in-person meeting with the team in Las Vegas over the weekend. The Phillies are expected to make the 26-year-old superstar a formal offer within a week, according to USA Today, and an end to the sweepstakes could finally be near.

The possibility of him returning to the Nationals is unclear. ESPN is reporting it could still happen, but a USA Today report said Harper is no longer in Washington’s plans unless owner Ted Lerner changes his mind or the former MVP accepts a contract at less than $25 million a year. A Harper deal would likely put the Nationals over the luxury-tax threshold.

Machado is the wild card. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Phillies prefer the infielder to the outfielder, and by closing in on Harper, Philadelphia is putting pressure on Machado to make his decision soon. He is believed to be picking from among the Phillies, White Sox and Yankees — although the Yankees seem out of the hunt after signing infielder DJ LeMahieu last week.

The Phillies and owner John Middleton still have a chance to land both Machado and Harper, even if it’s a remote chance. But they do appear confident they will bag at least one of the prize free agents.