UPDATE: Mark Sheldon of MLB.com says this one is done.
Saturday, 5:37 PM: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Reds and Volquez are close to an agreement on a one-year, $1.6 million contract.
Saturday, 3:31 PM: Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier today that he expects to get a deal done with Edinson Volquez this weekend, most likely in the form of a one-year deal.
Volquez is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. He requested $2 million and was offered $1.3 million when arbitration figures were exchanged last Tuesday.
The Reds have made their arbitration-eligible players a priority this offseason, inking Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto to multi-year contracts and securing considerable cost certainty for the next few seasons. Just last week, it looked like the club was going to go a similar route with Volquez, but Jocketty told Fay today that the 27-year-old right-hander prefers a one-year deal.
It’s a calculated gamble on the part of Volquez, as he could command considerably more through the arbitration process if he bounces back with a solid 2011 campaign. That’s clearly the motivation here. He has been limited to just major league 21 starts over the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
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.