Did the Rangers push Cliff Lee to Philly?

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Chuck Greenberg would like to be credited with an assist on the Cliff Lee-to-Philly deal:

Even though Philadelphia was probably not in, they were always in the back of our mind,” Greenberg said. “I think if we wouldn’t have gone to Arkansas that last time, I think he was going to sign with the Yankees. We pried the door open a little bit to give ourselves another opportunity. And ultimately the Phillies were able to take advantage of that opportunity that we created.”

I thought we covered this already. Ruben Amaro is a ninja. He does not require an assist any more than the waves need an assist to crash into the shore.  Indeed, Amaro is probably standing right behind you right now and you don’t even realize it.

In any event, yesterday Hank Steinbrenner said that he thought that Lee was brushing Cashman and the Yankees off by not meeting with them. Today Greenberg implies that the Rangers never really had a shot and that his trip to Arkansas heroically kept Cliff Lee from joining a league rival.  Maybe there’s truth to both of those things, but the extent to which everyone is trying to spin their inability to land Cliff Lee is kind of comical.

Oh, and Greenberg used the phrase “Mystery Team,” so I suppose it’s officially part of the baseball lexicon now. Thanks Jon.

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.