The Padres make a mildly baffling trade

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This isn’t the sort of trade that’s going to alter the balance of power or anything, but it does have some gawk-appeal:

The San Diego Padres acquired infielder Oscar Salazar from the
Baltimore Orioles for right-handed pitcher Cla Meredith on Sunday.

The trade became more urgent for San Diego after utilityman Edgar
Gonzalez was hit in the head with a pitch on Saturday night and
remained hospitalized Sunday. San Diego is expected to place Gonzalez
on the DL. The brother of All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar
was still complaining of dizziness, ringing in his ears and a partial
loss of hearing a day after the frightening beaning.

Not to take a thing away from the Edgar Gonzalez situation — beanings
are serious business — but I’m not sure what was so “urgent” about
this deal. The Padres aren’t going anywhere this year, and unless
they’ve made the organizational decision to go to a zone defense, they
have a second baseman somewhere in the system who can serve as a
utilityman in Gonzalez’s absence.

What they or any other team don’t have a lot of, however, are 26 year-old groundball machines, as The Hardball Times’ Evan Brunell puts it. No, Meredith ain’t the second coming of Dan Quisenberry or anything, but he does represent something
of value in the game of baseball. The kind of which can and should
bring more than a journeyman infielder like Oscar Salazar around the
trade deadline.

Can anyone give me one good reason why Kevin Towers couldn’t fill
Gonzalez’s hole with an organizational soldier for a week while seeing
if he couldn’t drum up a little bit more for a decent reliever than
Oscar Salazar? Can’t anyone point to a team a little more desperate to
obtain him than the 40-50 Baltimore Orioles? Maybe this is just a
little thing, but when you’re a team like the Padres, the little things
add up.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.