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Report: Phillies might be willing to trade Odubel Herrera

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The Rangers are looking for an upgrade in the outfield. As such, the club has discussed speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton with the Reds, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan adds that the still-rebuilding Phillies might be willing to trade center fielder Odubel Herrera which would create a match with the Rangers.

Herrera, soon to be 25 years old, was originally signed in the summer of 2008 as an amateur free agent by the Rangers. The Phillies selected him from the Rangers in the Rule-5 draft two winters ago. Herrera had an outstanding rookie campaign in 2015, batting .297/.344/.418 in 537 plate appearances. He was able to maintain that production in 2016, finishing with a .286/.361/.420 triple-slash line with 15 home runs, 49 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases in 656 PA. Herrera was the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game.

Herrera has shown the ability to play above-average — though inconsistent — defense. He strikes out a fair amount but showed a massively-improved eye at the plate last season, boosting his walk rate from five percent to nearly 10 percent. What might be most attractive to interested teams, however, is likely the fact that he’s under team control through the 2020 season.

As the free agent market is not particularly robust, teams in need of upgrades may be forced to make trades which works out well for teams like the Phillies.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.