Nomar is speaking right now. He’s pretty emotional, but upbeat. He said that he knew he was ready to retire when he was working out this offseason and realized that he had nothing left. He recalled something one of his old teammates said when he retired: “I know my tank is empty.”
I took this to be a positive statement, not a negative one. It’s not that he still wants to play and doesn’t have the fuel at the ready to do it. He means that he’s given everything he had to give and won’t have any regrets later. For what it’s worth, Nomar confirmed that he’s taking a job with ESPN, saying “even though I’m walking away from the game, I’m glad I don’t have to walk away completely.”
As for the sign-and-retire thing, Nomar said it was his idea — inspired in no small part by the warm ovation he received when he came back to Boston as a visiting player with the A’s last summer — and that he approached Theo Epstein about it first. The Sox’ position: “When the history of the Boston Red Sox is written — again — there will be a very large and important chapter about Nomar Garciaparra.”
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.