Last week the New York Times ran a story about discrimination claims lodged against Jim Crane’s company several years ago and wondered if the existence of such claims could complicate his approval as the new owner of the Houston Astros. I was highly skeptical that would be an obstacle because if Bud Selig had any issues with Crane over this his bid for the Astros a couple of years ago would have been squashed, as would his bid for the Rangers last year. That the present sale of the Astros has gotten this far is pretty clear evidence that, as far as baseball is concerned, Crane has no worries.
Today Richard Justice confirms that, reporting that Crane met with Selig yesterday and that it’s full steam ahead. In the course of the article he notes how, if anyone was going to have a trouble with the discrimination allegations it would be Selig, and the fact that he’s cool with it means that everyone will be cool with it.
Now, we still await word as to whether anyone cares about those reports that Crane’s ownership group is debt heavy. For that I’m not holding my breath.
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.