The Marlins must have been inspired by the quick hook that the Rangers gave to rookie hitting coach Thad Bosley on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Marlins’ official Twitter feed, hitting coach John Mallee has been “relieved” of his duties and ESPN baseball analyst Eduardo Perez will take over the gig Thursday.
Mallee was promoted to the role of major league hitting coach in June of last season after spending nine years as a minor league hitting instructor in the Marlins’ farm system. He was drafted as a player by the Phillies in 1991 and hit .208 in 115 career minor league games before hanging up his cleats in ’92.
The Marlins ranked 19th in runs scored, 21st in total hits, 17th in home runs and 15th in team OPS heading into Wednesday’s action and lost to the Braves in extra innings tonight. Rarely would any of that be the hitting coach’s fault, but the front office decided to name a scapegoat and Mallee got the boot just an hour or two after Florida’s defeat. The appeal of adding a “big name” like Perez also probably played a part.
Perez has no major league or minor league coaching experience, but he serves as skipper for Leones De Ponce of the Puerto Rico Baseball League in the winter and won Manager of the Year there in 2008.
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.