Buster Olney reports that Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane has told catcher Kurt Suzuki that he should avoid collisions at home plate, telling Suzuki: “I don’t subscribe to the theory you should be a crash-test dummy … I don’t want to lose you for six months.”
Seems smart, because if you just leave it up to catchers, the pressure to take that hit — a pressure that has built up over the course of the last, oh, 150 years of baseball history — would likely be too great. With the GM going on the record about this — and telling ESPN about it — there is no chance anyone criticizes Suzuki if he does the wise thing and stands to the side as a baserunner barrels down on him.
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.