The Pirates are scouting Hunter Pence

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The bizarro theme of “Pittsburgh Pirates: trade deadline buyers” continues.  Building on their alleged contacts with the Oakland A’s regarding Josh Willingham, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports today that they’re aiming higher than that:  they’re scouring the Astros’ Hunter Pence.

It strikes me as unlikely that anything could come of that.  Not too long ago Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros were unlikely to trade Pence unless Jim Crane took over the team before the deadline — which is unlikely — and ordered such a deal.  Add onto that the rumors that Ed Wade seems to be asking for way too much for Wandy Rodriguez, and you have to figure that he’d probably be asking too much for Pence too.  Assuming that his current position — sort of a lame duck GM, waiting for a new boss — even inspires him to make a deal.

So this is fun from a “hmm, what could help Pittsburgh continue to contend” perspective, but I’d be rather shocked to see anything real come of this.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.