A lot of relievers are getting three-year deals. That’s a bit scary.

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UPDATE: Cameron expands on his analysis of multi-year deals for relievers here.

6:09 AM: It always takes a while for teams to turn to the bullpen during the offseason, but when they do, they tend to do it all at once. And it was certainly a big day for relief pitcher signings and rumors yesterday. Matt Guerrier, Kerry Wood and Jesse Crain signed. There’s action on Bobby Jenks and Octavio Dotel. I’m sure this will continue for a while.

Of particular note: Crain and Guerrier signed three-year deals.  As did Joaquin Benoit and Scott Downs recently. Three-year deals for relievers seem kind of nuts to me given how up-and-down almost every reliever’s performance tends to be. I hadn’t realized how up-and-down until I saw this tweet from Dave Cameron yesterday:

List of relievers who have signed 3+ year deals since 2006 and been worth the money: Rivera. That’s it. That’s the list.

He means free agent relievers, not necessarily young ones locked up by their teams during arbitration years such as Joakim Soria, but it’s still a pretty startling observation.  And even though Cameron doesn’t define “worth the money” in his tweet, it’s hard to come up with a single non-Mariano exception to the observation, even if you’re generous about what “worth” is.

The Jayson Werth deal signaled that baseball’s recent run of relative austerity was over.  The fact that setup guys are getting three-year deals like this is pretty darn good supporting evidence.

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.