They’re not worried about his bat or his glove or his chi or anything like that. Just his health, as he has taken a lot of foul tips to the cabeza lately:
“He’s taken more than I’ve ever seen,” said manager Bruce Bochy, a catcher himself during his playing days with the Astros, Mets and Padres. “He’s getting enough shots that are hitting him pretty good that I’ve got concern.”
So what to do about that concern? One thing Bochy is suggesting is maybe Posey using a different mask, though it’s unclear whether the hockey mask he uses now is any worse than the traditional catcher’s mask when it comes to foul tip protection.
How about a position switch? Andrew Baggarly says in the article that that’s not so easy, what with Pablo Sandoval at third, Aubrey Huff at first and Brandon Belt waiting in the wings to take first base over when Huff is gone.
Maybe I’m just being dense here, but Belt has played in 29 games at AAA since being sent down and he has played the outfield in at least 24 of them. Think maybe that Buster Posey could handle first base then? Or, given how strong his arm is and the fact that he once was an infielder and is a pretty good overall athlete that he could maybe handle right field?
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.