Padres agree to deal with Jorge Cantu

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UPDATE: A slight correction. Dan Hayes of the North County Times hears that it is a non-guaranteed major league deal.

11:35 PM: Marty Caswell of XX1090 Sports Radio in San Diego reports that Cantu will make an $850,000 base salary in his new one-year contract with the Padres. I would assume there are some incentives in there, as well.

11:06 PM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Padres have agreed to sign Jorge Cantu. And opposed to what Jon Heyman of SI.com reported earlier today, the club ultimately gave him a guaranteed major league contract.

Cantu, who turns 29 later this month, batted .256/.304/.392 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI last season. He had a meager .235 batting average over 105 plate appearances after being acquired by Rangers at the trade deadline and was largely a non-factor during the team’s World Series run, seeing a grand total of four plate appearances during the entire postseason.

The right-handed hitting Cantu batted just .234 with a .647 OPS in 154 plate appearances against left-handed pitching last season, but if he can get back to his production against southpaws from 2009 ( .892 OPS) and 2008 (.866 OPS), he could be a pretty solid platoon partner for Brad Hawpe at first base or Chase Headley at the hot corner.

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.