Bryce Harper + Scott Boras = chaos

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Strasburg-mania is old hat. I’m on to worshipping a 16 year-old:

Bryce Harper is bigger than the NBA Finals this week. He’s bigger than the Stanley Cup.

The image of the Las Vegas High School sensation with the desert
mountains of Nevada serving as his playground graces the June 8 cover
of Sports Illustrated on newsstands today in a tribute fitting of the
nation’s newest and youngest baseball star.

In large bold black letters, the magazine proclaims Harper as
“Baseball’s Chosen One.” The cover features his biggest numbers:
570-foot home runs, 96 mph fastballs and his age, 16. He is hailed on
the cover as the most exciting prodigy since LeBron James and his
central placement on the magazine is fit for a king. In the top right
corner of the cover, there’s a small mention of the NBA Finals. In top
left corner, the tease to the Stanley Cup Finals floats as if it has
just been hit by Harper’s left-handed swing.

The kicker: Harper’s parents are looking for ways to make him eligible
for the 2010 draft instead of 2011. Oh, and that one of the teenager’s
advisers is Scott Boras.

In other words, get ready for the runup to next year’s draft to be
crazier than this year’s. I’m talking long lost birth certificates,
psychological testing and lawsuits. Should be an utter blast if you’re
anyone other than a 16 year-old kid named Bryce Harper.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.