Jim Crane, the owner-in-waiting of the Houston Astros is fed up. He’s fed up with waiting for MLB approval and he’s really fed up with the talk about why that approval is being held up. You would too if it reminded people of past allegations of war profiteering, discrimination claims and details about a custody battle you had 11 years ago playing out in public.
His side of the story — in pretty great detail — can be read in an interview he gave to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle yesterday.
I’ll say that I have a bit of sympathy for the guy. I have a sense that the problems his bid is alleged to have are something of a moving target. Some days it’s the money, some days it’s the past. No one seems willing to go on record about it. All of this stuff had to have been known by those inside the game years ago, as Crane has been a potential owner for a long time. And of course, no one at Major League Baseball seems to be in a hurry to do anything with the bid itself.
Hard to say if this helps him or hurts him. On the one hand, it’s probably good that he’s willing to talk frankly about the stuff swirling around him. On the other hand: when was the last time MLB and Bud Selig took kindly to someone making their case in the press?
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.