After checking in, the San Diego Padres have decided to pursue Bryce Harper.

The free-agent outfielder met with Padres officials Thursday in Las Vegas, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reported, citing sources. Padres owner Peter Seidler reportedly was part of the group of Padres officials who met with Harper. Seidler’s presence indicates San Diego believes it truly is in the running for Harper.

The Padres quietly entered the race for Harper’s services in mid-January after the market failed to produce the type of jaw-dropping contract offers he had hoped for when he opted for free agency. The Padres reportedly “checked in” on Harper last week and received enough encouragement from his camp to warrant a sit-down with him.

Whether the Padres will offer him a contract and what it might contain remains to be seen. Nevertheless, they’re reportedly are in contention with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals for the five-time All-Star.

San Diego’s entry into the Harper race is a dramatic plot twist. With spring training set to begin in just under three weeks’ time, we probably should expect more turns of events before Harper’s free-agency saga ends.

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