Minnesota replaced Michael Cuddyer by signing Josh Willingham yesterday and seemingly replaced Jason Kubel by signing Ryan Doumit last month, but apparently they haven’t given up on bringing Kubel back.
Kubel indicated earlier this week that he’d all but written off the possibility of re-signing with Minnesota, but Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that “the Twins increased their efforts to re-sign Kubel late this week.”
Kubel re-signing would leave the Twins with a surplus of first baseman, corner outfielders, and designated hitters, although with Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer both question marks health-wise that depth is hardly a bad thing. Doumit could be needed behind the plate if Mauer can’t play catcher regularly, but short of that happening he’d be stuck in a pretty limited role if Kubel returned.
Another option would be trading Denard Span or Ben Revere–or maybe just sending Revere to the bench or Triple-A–which would open up an outfield spot for Kubel while significantly hurting the Twins’ defense.
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.