Stephen Strasburg boasts a 2-0 record, 0.73 ERA and a 17/3 K/BB ratio through three starts (12 1/3 innings) at Double-A Harrisburg and is certainly ready for more of a challenge. But don’t expect a promotion to the big leagues anytime soon.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo hinted to CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman on Wednesday that the 21-year-old standout will not be rushed through the organization, no matter how well he pitches.
“I’ve got a tentative plan in my mind, that I’m not going to share with
you guys,” Rizzo said with a laugh
Wednesday. “But we see that he certainly needs more work down in the
minor leagues. We’re going to see him in the big leagues, and when we
see him in the big leagues, we hope he’s here for good.”
It’s less about performance and development than it is about money, of course. By leaving Strasburg in the minors until early June, the Nats can prevent him from reaching Super-Two status, which gives a player an extra year of arbitration. In the end, patience could save the Nationals nearly $20 million.
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.