Francisco Rodriguez accepts arbitration from Brewers

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The Brewers offered arbitration to free agent right-hander Francisco Rodriguez last month in order to fetch draft picks when he signed elsewhere.

But the reliever market has been rough since Jonathan Papelbon scored a massive deal from the Phillies and now it appears that Milwaukee will be stuck with a high-priced setup man in 2012.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, K-Rod will “probably” accept the Brewers’ offer of salary arbitration later tonight.

Rodriguez earned $11.5 million in 2011 and stands to make around $14 million for 2012 through the arbitration process. He posted a strong 2.64 ERA and 79/26 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings this past year, but the low-budget Brewers don’t typically overpay relievers. Perhaps a trade will be coming.

UPDATE: MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy confirms that K-Rod has accepted arbitration.

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.