Bryce Harper.  Manny Machado.  Harper.  Machado.  Harper.  Machado.   Both superstar free agent players remained unsigned.

Earlier in the day, we learned from Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Phillies were set to meet with free agent Harper on Saturday.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia confirmed that the Phillies are indeed set to meet with Harper, but also that the club is set to amp up their efforts for Machado:

While the Phillies have interest in Harper, they have not made an offer to him and it's unclear if they will. The Phillies remain primarily interested in infielder Manny Machado, the other megastar on this winter's free-agent market. The Phils have made a preliminary offer to Machado and are expected to make another offer to him this week.

Which player of the two will sign with a team first?

Even beyond Machado and Harper, many top free agents remain, including outfielder A.J. Pollock, infielder Mike Moustakas, starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel.  Of those players, the Phillies could get involved in Pollock and Moustakas once the Harper/Machado situations are resolved.  Neither seems imminent.

The Phillies, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox all hosted Machado for visits.  But yet, there seems to be no clear leader as Machado takes his time to decide his next destination.  As for Harper, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and The Athletic reports that Nationals owner Ted Lerner has stepped up his efforts to re-sign Harper.  That might put the Nationals in the lead for Harper.

At this point, the Phillies may make their best possible offers to both Harper and Machado.  If neither player will accept, the Phillies could stand to move on.  If the Phillies are looking for a superstar, they can find one in subsequent offseasons potentially in the likes of third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Mike Trout.

Should the Phillies miss out on either player, they are still better than they were last year.  There are still players to sign before pitchers and catchers report just over five weeks from now.  But there are many players left to sign.  The Phillies will remain active no matter what.

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