Cuban defector Chapman heads to NY to meet with teams

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Picking a slightly more central location than tiny Andorra, Aroldis Chapman, who was declared a free agent last month, is headed to New York to begin meeting with suitors.
Chapman’s agent told ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. that the 21-year-old left-hander will arrive on Wednesday and is set to visit several cities. Boston is very likely to be included, and a trip to the West Coast to gauge the interest of the Dodgers and Angels figures to follow.
The hard-throwing Chapman is expected to get one of the winter’s largest contracts, even though he’s probably not ready to succeed as a major league starter just yet. He placed eighth on our list of the winter’s top 111 free agents. A deal in the $50 million range is a good guess, and the Yankees would seem to have the best chance of anyone of landing him.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.