Prospect hounds and Indians fans will find this interesting: Cleveland called up infield prospect Cord Phelps today, and started him at second base in the game going on right now against the Twins. He grounded out to second in his first at bat.
Phelps was a third round pick in the 2008 draft. So far this year at Columbus he has hit 299/.391/.488. Throughout his minor league career he has shown a good eye and gap power. A switch hitter, Phelps is particularly effective against right-handers. Given that the Indians’ usual second baseman Orlando Cabrera is decidedly not, we can probably assume that there will be a platoon there for a good while.
To make room for Phelps, the Indians optioned Shelley Duncan back here to Columbus. Which, on the merits probably isn’t fair to Duncan, but makes a lot of roster sense given that he has an option left. And hey, my daughter will be happy that he’s back in town, so there’s that.
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.