The Yankees and Damon are totally splitsville

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No matter how many times we heard the reports that the Yankees were going to stick to a budget and couldn’t give more than a couple million bucks to Johnny Damon, you always got the sense that those two kids would make it work. After all, just because the Yankees allegedly have a budget doesn’t mean they don’t have the money. And hey, they made Andy Pettitte cool his heels until late January last year, so maybe they’re doing the same thing with old Johnny D.

But now it really does seem over:

“Don’t bother paying attention,” general manager Brian Cashman said of
chatter linking the Yankees and Damon. “Johnny’s physical abilities
exceed our financial abilities at this point in time.”

Damon’s
agent, Scott Boras, was unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, reached by
text message on Tuesday night, Damon also said talks never got off the
ground since the Yankees’ mid-December acquisition of Nick Johnson.

“Never started again,” Damon said of any negotiations. “They have their budget.”

Yankees
manager Joe Girardi refused to rule out a return, though he expressed
his doubts candidly: “I don’t see it getting done.”

Boras was unavailable for comment? The fact that even he can’t figure out a way to spin this situation may be the most revealing thing I’ve heard in weeks.

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.