Now that he's not so cheap, A's cut ties with Cust

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Oakland grabbed Jack Cust off the scrap heap in 2007, gave him the first regular playing time of his career, and ended up getting 1,717 plate appearances of .241/.378/.462 hitting with 84 homers, 309 walks, 226 runs, and 229 RBIs for a combined cost of under $4 million. However, with Cust now on the wrong side of 30 and in line for a raise to about $4 million for 2010 alone via arbitration the A’s have decided to non-tender him.
Cust strikes out a ton with bad batting averages and is stretched defensively anywhere but DH, but also has 30-homer pop and elite patience. His lifetime .374 on-base percentage and .455 slugging percentage with an average of 28 homers and 100 walks per 600 plate appearances would fit just fine in plenty of lineups, but his skill set tends to scare teams off and re-signing with the A’s for a lesser salary may end up being his best option. For now Jake Fox sits atop Oakland’s depth chart at DH.

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.