It looked like a longshot even a couple of days ago, but after playing five innings in right field in minor league games on Saturday and Sunday, the Mets intend to have Carlos Beltran on the Opening Day roster.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Beltran is expected to be in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s Grapefruit League game against the Nationals, which means the Mets would lose the ability to backdate a potential DL-stint.
“Carlos said he’s feeling good and he’s ready to go,” Sandy Alderson said. “At some point you’ve got to move forward. I do think it’s valuable for him to play in major league [spring-training] games. That would be an advantage over the last couple of days. It does present a risk. Look, at some point you’ve got to roll the dice. Given his firmness about how he feels and the fact that he’s ready to go, I think we’ve decided that this is probably the best thing for us.”
Beltran has appeared in just one Grapefruit League game this spring, so Collins indicated that he may drop the veteran outfielder in the lineup until he shakes the rust. Rubin believes the Mets will also likely use a defensive replacement late in games and give Beltran scheduled days off in order to keep his knees fresh.
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.