Ryan Ludwick's "terse meeting" with manager Tony La Russa preceded trade to Padres

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I wrote yesterday that the Cardinals’ decision to trade Ryan Ludwick for Jake Westbrook struck me as odd given the team’s apparent need for offense and Ludwick’s strong production for the past four years, but Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch sheds some interesting light on what may have motivated the move behind the scenes.
According to Strauss “hours before” the trade “Ludwick voiced concerns over his choppy playing time during a terse meeting with manager Tony La Russa.” General manager John Mozeliak admitted that “there was already some level of frustration” from Ludwick regarding La Russa regularly keeping him out of the lineup following his stint on the disabled list with a calf injury.
Mozeliak and La Russa both downplayed the role that frustration and the subsequent “terse meeting” played in the trade, with La Russa stressing that the move was “motivated by our chance to win this year” and “if we could have gotten Westbrook and kept Luddy, that would have been the best of both worlds.”

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.