The Pirates are interested in bringing Nady back

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While Pittsburgh is sniffing around Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, they’re also thinking about Xavier Nady, according to Dejan Kovacevic:

An X-Man sequel?

The Pirates have made initial inquiries on free-agent outfielder
Xavier Nady, as well as reliever Ron Villone and shortstop Bobby
Crosby, though none of those inquiries is known to have moved past that
stage. In the cases of Nady and Villone, management likely will wait
until closer to spring training in search of the best value.

I love it: three useful guys — Ankiel, Blalock and Nady — fighting for two positions with the Pittsburgh Pirates of all teams, none of whom are likely to get more than a one-year make-good deal.  As if you needed any more confirmation of yesterday’s thing about the middle class being squeezed.

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.