Cardinals have “intensified talks” with Carlos Beltran

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Cleveland’s actual level of interest in Carlos Beltran is unclear, but there’s no doubt that St. Louis is legitimately making a strong run at the free agent outfielder.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch the Cardinals have “intensified their talks” with Beltran and are likely offering him at least a two-year contract.

Several reports have suggested that Beltran will make a decision on his new home by the end of this week, so presumably the Cardinals have put their interest in Coco Crisp on hold until then.

No one can replace Albert Pujols’ production, particularly since the Cardinals have made it clear that they aren’t interested in Prince Fielder, but if healthy and available for a two-year commitment Beltran might be the best all-around value still on the market. He hit .300 with 22 homers and a .910 OPS in 142 games for the Mets and Giants this past season, marking the fifth time in six years he’s topped an .875 OPS.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.