The Nationals haven’t ruled out giving Bryce Harper the starting right field job next spring

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The phrase “… haven’t ruled out” is one you really gotta take with a grain of salt. I mean, I haven’t ruled out a lot of ridiculous things, mostly because I haven’t considered them in the first place.  That said, this is still interesting to me:

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Likelihood: outrageously low. Harper only hit .256/.329/.395 in his first look at double-A last year. Which is awesome for someone his age, but c’mon, that doesn’t look like a guy who is going to be able to step into a major league lineup at age 19.

Still: the very fact that this report is out there suggests how well the Nats understand that Harper’s appeal to fans and thus his usefulness as a marquee draw. I’ll bet he stays in the big league camp much longer than your usual minor league kid next spring.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.