Phenom Bryce Harper has been on a parental-imposed media blackout for much of the winter. He emerges a bit today with a profile in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s a good read if for no other reason than it reminds you that Harper is painfully, painfully young to be going through what he’s been going through since that Sports Illustrated cover hit last summer:
“I had a transition from high
school to college, and it was pretty hard at the beginning. I was
second-guessing myself and thinking maybe I shouldn’t have done this,”
Harper said Tuesday.
“There were times when I was in my room or with my family or
something, and it was pretty hard because everybody was out there
saying stuff. I can’t live up to all the hype and everything like that.”
Harper, an honor student in high school, earned his GED test
credentials and was excelling at CSN while recording a 4.0 grade-point
average. But he was failing for the first time in baseball, compiling
too many 0-for-4 days at practice and striking out when he was
accustomed to hitting home runs.
“It really hurt me, and I was thinking maybe this isn’t for me,” he said, pausing. “But I put that aside.”
He’s doing better now, settling into a groove and leading his JC team in homers and RBIs. A JC team that is ranked number one in the nation. Oh, and he has a hilarious sense of humor too:
Harper, being advised by agent
Scott Boras, said it’s not a foregone conclusion that he will enter
June’s major league draft, which could net him a signing bonus in the
neighborhood of $10 million.
Sure it isn’t a foregone conclusion. His parents didn’t rob him of two years of high school and cram him into junior college because they wanted to circumvent the draft rules for high schoolers. They were simply worried he couldn’t get a prom date if he stayed in high school. That’s the ticket.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.