As expected, the Padres have decided to non-tender both Tony Gwynn Jr. and Scott Hairston.
San Diego locked up its fourth outfielder for 2011 by signing Chris Denorfia to a one-year, $800,000 deal, making Gwynn and Hairston somewhat superfluous.
In addition to his fantastic, beloved-in-San Diego bloodlines Gwynn has proven to be an elite defensive center fielder, but he’s struggled to hit or stay healthy and the Padres acquired Cameron Maybin to be their starter there for 2011 and beyond.
Hairston’s value is mostly at the plate, but at this point he’s a 30-year-old with a mediocre .737 career OPS and looks like little more than a platoon player despite plenty of power.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.