Scott Olsen chooses free agency

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that Scott Olsen opted for free agency after he was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse. The southpaw was arbitration-eligible this winter, so this is essentially an early non-tender.

Olsen has completely fizzled out since compiling a 4.04 ERA and striking out 166 batters over 180 2/3 innings in his rookie season with the Marlins in 2006. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum last August and returned to post a 5.56 ERA and 53/27 K/BB over 17 games (15 starts) this past season.

Olsen spent over two months on the disabled list this season because of soreness and inflammation in his surgically-repaired shoulder and was finally shut down in September. With the health of his shoulder in question, he’ll probably have to settle for a minor league deal this winter.

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.