Rays promote Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham

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12:00 a.m. EDT update: Upton is staying put for now.  The Rays announced after the game that Jennings was being called up, but that he’d be taking shortstop Reid Brignac’s spot.  Brignac, whose demotion was long overdue, hit just .193/.234/.219 in 187 at-bats and was losing playing time at shortstop to Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.  Jennings will get starts in left while the Rays figure out what they’re doing with Upton.  Sam Fuld will lose some playing time, and Ben Zobrist figures to be used pretty strictly as a second baseman.

11:30 p.m. EDT update: Durham Bulls writer Adam Sobsey confirms that Jennings has been recalled by the Rays.  That doesn’t necessarily mean Upton is a goner — the Rays could use Jennings in left field — but the trade possibility remains very much alive.

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It sounds like the Rays have made a move, as they just pulled B.J. Upton from the game against the Royals and they scratched Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham’s lineup.

Washington has been the most common landing spot for Upton in trade rumors.

Upton was 1-for-4 tonight before being removed.  He’s been playing well of late, having hit .270/.333/.429 with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games this month.  The Nationals have long coveted him to fill their hole in center field, and the 26-year-old is under control through 2012.

His replacement in center field with the Rays would be Jennings, who recently returned from a finger injury.  He’s hit .286/.426/.510 in 13 games this month and .275/.374/.456 overall for Durham.

Update: For what it’s worth, it’s possible we’re overreacting here.  The Rays were down by six runs and had already removed Matt Joyce from the contest.  Upton also could have been due a little rest, considering he had started every game since the break.  Still, there is a little evidence that something is going on.  Draysbay.com reports that Jennings was seen signing something in the managers office at Triple-A Durham before tonight’s game.

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.