Lost in Bryce Harper’s latest foray into villainy is that the Nationals drafted his older brother yesterday, using their 30th-round pick on South Carolina left-hander Bryan Harper (not to be confused with the Brian Harper who spelled his name without a Y and was a really good player).
This is actually the second time the Nationals have drafted Bryan Harper. They also picked him in the 31st round out of high school in 2008, but didn’t sign him. He went on to play with younger brother Bryce at College of Southern Nevada and then transferred to South Carolina this year.
Bryce naturally thinks Bryan is really good:
He’s one of the most dominating left-handed pitchers I’ve seen in my life. My brother’s pretty good and I wouldn’t say it if he wasn’t.
Perhaps, but Bryan Harper has a 5.40 ERA and 18/17 K/BB ratio as a reliever this season. For now at least Bryce should probably stick to hitting rather than scouting.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post speculates that the Nationals might send Bryan Harper to Single-A to play with Bryce. If they can sign him, of course. The 6-foot-5 southpaw still has one more season of eligibility left and could opt to return to school.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.