Nationals, Rays targeting Orlando Hudson

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hudson pointing.JPGUPDATE: ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that the Rays are also keen on Hudson and might be willing to move Ben Zobrist to right field in order to accommodate him.

7:03pm: MLB.com’s Bill Ladson heard from a baseball source Tuesday that the Nationals “have a good chance of signing” free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.

“There is good progress going on every day,” Hudson told MLB.com. “I will sign
soon enough. You can put it on the Internet and on TV. I’m going to
sign. I can’t say exactly when. It will not be long. I can’t say if it’s
with the Nationals, San Diego or Cleveland. I can’t say with whom.
Something is getting done.”

The “O-Dog” hit .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs, 62 RBI and eight stolen bases in 551 at-bats for the Dodgers last season.  He’s found little interest on the open market this winter, but it feels like we could see a flurry of free agent signings within the next week or two.  After all, pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring camp in just 19 days.

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.