The Royals sign Kevin Kouzmanoff

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Not a big signing, but hey, it’s somethin’ to talk about: Jerry Crasnick reports that the Kansas City Royals have signed Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal.

It includes an invitation to the big league camp. As is often the case with veterans like him on minor league deals, he has an opt-out if he’s not in the majors by May 1. If he does make the big league roster he’ll make $1 million. Incentives in the deal can bump it up to $1.3 million.

Kouzmanoff has been a starter for most of his career, but only had 257 plate appearances between Colorado and Oakland last season.  In Kansas City he would be behind Mike Moustakas. Who, while young and promising, struggled a bit when he was called up last season and could probably use a backup/mentor type to help him complete his transition to big league life.

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.