Jayson Stark is reporting that the Marlins have made an offer to Russell Branyan. It’s a major league deal with a low base and incentives. In that way it’s probably much like the $1.4 million he made in Seattle last year, where he hit 31 dingers.
Problem for him, though, is that he missed a lot of time down the stretch with a bad back, and when power is your game, a bad back is bad news. It also ended up being bad news for his market, inasmuch as he was reportedly expecting to sign a multi-year deal someplace to start at first. Given that the Marlins current first base options — Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez — are youngins, he may yet get to start, but it’s almost certainly going to be a one-and-done for Branyan.
Assuming he accepts the offer, that is. Which he should. Because really, I’m not sure who else would give him one at this point.
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.