No deadline for decision on Ryan Braun’s PED appeal

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It has been three whole weeks since Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun made a plea of innocence in front of an independent arbitrator in New York City, and yet no decision has been made about the NL MVP’s status for the start of the 2012 regular season.

Braun, who tested positive for “insane” levels of synthetic testosterone around the beginning of the 2011 playoffs and is thus facing a 50-game suspension, could be kept waiting a bit longer.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the arbitrator tasked with making the decision in Braun’s PED case is not being held to the usual 25-day deadline. So the review of Braun’s appeal will go on as long as it has to, with no guarantee that things will be wrapped up by the opening of spring camp.

Pitchers and catchers report on February 18 and the Brewers’ first full-squad workout is on February 25.

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.