This one from Phil Rogers is prefaced with the idea that the Cubs are merely “kicking it around,” do don’t get your hopes up, Fukudome-hating Cubs fans or Matsuzaka-hating Red Sox fans. There’s no suggestion that the Red Sox have been contacted about it and, of course, both of these guys have no-trade clauses, so they’d have to be brought into the loop too. I’d place the odds of such a deal going down somewhere between “Brandon Wood wins a batting title” and “Pablo Sandoval eats a vegetable.”
But it’s fun to consider. Total challenge trade, no? Both guys are capable of playing well for stretches, both are capable of really stinkin’ up the joint. Both are seen by the fan base as massive disappointments, especially in light of their salaries. The Japanese angle is gravy of course. If you’ve ever seen the way the Japanese baseball press covers these guys you can just imagine the media frenzy such a trade would create.
Rogers says that the kicking-around of it all involves “a package of players.” Who knows how it would all turn out — not that it will ever turn out — but if it did go down, who wins? I suspect the Cubs by virtue of the fact that Matsuzaka would likely improve against NL Central opponents, but we can’t be sure.
I don’t care, though. This is easily the most fun rumor we’ve had since the offseason began.
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.