Cardinals likely to start Daniel Descalso at 2B in 2012

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According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Saturday that Daniel Descalso is likely to open the 2012 season as the club’s starting second baseman.

Descalso batted .264/.334/.353 with one home run, 20 doubles and 28 RBI in 375 plate appearances this year, making 61 starts at third base, 11 starts at shortstop and nine at second. The athletic 25-year-old has a plus arm and good range, and should be able to meet expectations defensively while growing into an adequate performer at the plate.

In 425 minor league games, Descalso was a .276/.347/.406 hitter and tallied 27 home runs.

The news likely means that Skip Schumaker, who made $2.7 million in 2011, will be non-tendered this winter. If the Cardinals do decide to bring him back, he’ll function as a super utilityman.

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.