UPDATE: Oliver Perez moved to the bullpen

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Bad Ollie.jpgUPDATE: Perez has been moved to the bullpen, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

Kevin Burkhardt of SNY.tv reports that Manuel has yet to name a replacement, but logic dictates that it would be left-hander Hisanori Takahashi. If not, the Mets would need to make a roster move should they choose to pluck R.A. Dickey or Dillon Gee from the minor leagues.

9:01 AM: Mets manager Jerry Manuel wouldn’t come right out and say it, but it would appear Oliver Perez is on his way out of the rotation after his latest implosion against the Marlins on Friday night (quote via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com).

“I’m concerned with the outings that we’re getting,” Manuel said. “The
last two outings, I have to be concerned with. We have to entertain some
different things.”

Perez was trounced for seven runs over just 3 1/3 innings against the Marlins, tying a career-high by giving up four home runs. He served up three home runs in the fourth inning alone.

The left-hander now has a 5.94 ERA and 1.92 WHIP over his first seven starts, compiling an ugly 27/28 K/BB ratio. Even worse, Perez is 3-7 with a 6.52 ERA and a 89/86 K/BB ratio since signing a three-year, $36 million contract with the Mets following the 2008 season.

So, yes, Perez is likely on the way out of the rotation, but the Mets would need his permission before they send him to the minor leagues. And so, with Scott Boras in tow, there’s a good chance Perez joins Jeff Suppan as one of the game’s most overpriced mop-up men.

Regardless of where Perez goes from here, the most likely candidate to replace him in the rotation is Hisanori Takahashi. The 35-year-old southpaw has a 2.74 ERA over his first 14 major league appearances, compiling an impressive 29/10 K/BB ratio over 23 innings.

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.