Bryce Harper cranks it up to 11 in GQ interview

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Will Leitch interviewed Bryce Harper for GQ, and the interview just went live.  It’s fantastic.  If for no other reason than the picture of Harper with a baseball in his mouth right at the top.

But it can also be summed up with Leitch’s observation that “Harper seems to have emerged fully formed to piss off the baseball establishment.”

Highlights:

  • “When I hit the ball…I do want to hurt it … I want to play the game hard. I want to ram it down your throat, put you into left field when I’m going into second base.”
  • “Playing football… I’m getting chills just thinking about it. That first knock of the game, you are going on kickoff and you are just trying to smack somebody just as hard as you can. That’s how I play baseball. I want to hit you. I want to run your ass over. Sorry.”
  • “baseball needs more superstars.”
  • And a quote from Mike Schmidt:  “I would think at some point the game itself, the competition on the field, is going to have to figure out a way to police this young man.”

Harper is one of the most interesting young players to have emerged in my lifetime.  If he lives up to the hype — or even comes close to living up to it — he’s going to be one of the most astounding things the game has ever seen. Pete Rose meets Muhammad Ali, maybe.

And if he doesn’t, God help the guy who has to do the article in which a 30-something Harper talks about how full of piss and vinegar he was when he was 19 and how he wishes he hadn’t said some of the things he said.

For now, though: Mercy. I’m kinda excited.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.