Bryce Harper reportedly might return to the Washington Nationals after all.

The free agent slugger is the hottest name on the Major League Baseball free agent market, with the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly being the chief contenders to pry Harper from Washington. But there’s a growing likelihood of the 26-year-old re-signing with the Nationals, according to MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand.

Feinsand also noted that the Philadelphia Phillies are ramping up their pursuit of shortstop Manny Machado.

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

” ‘It’s heating up,’ the source said.”

Harper returning to Washington would qualify as a surprise, as reports early in the offseason indicated the Nationals did not expect the superstar to return. As for Machado, it’s tough to get a read on his situation, as other reports suggest the Chicago White Sox are the front-runners.

Round and round we go.

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