J.C. Romero may bolt Nationals to sign with Yankees

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Veteran left-hander J.C. Romero signed a minor league contract with the Nationals at the end of June. Since then, he’s registered cool a 1.29 ERA in five relief appearances at Triple-A Syracuse, allowing only one earned run in seven innings.

He wants that impressive two-week stretch rewarded by the Nats’ front office. And soon.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Romero’s “intention” is to opt of his contract with the Nationals on July 15 if he is not promoted to the major leagues. The 35-year-old would then sign a minor league deal with the Yankees and report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre with the hope of donning pinstripes for the stretch run and possibly the playoffs.

The Nats would do well to promote Romero now, see if he shines in a short stay in the bigs, and then shop him around to reliever-needy teams at the deadline. Just about every contending club could use a lefty reliever.

Romero had a 3.86 ERA and was holding left-handed hitters to a .530 OPS in 24 outings before his release.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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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.