Yoenis Cespedes is not guaranteed a job either. Or so says Billy Beane.

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It’s understandable that Manny Ramirez is going to be out of the picture for a while. But would you believe Yoenis Cespedes could be shuffled off to the minors too?

I don’t believe it, but Billy Beane is at least making noises that Cespedes will not simply be given a job:

Beane would not guarantee Cespedes will be in the lineup March 28 when the A’s open the regular season against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo. “Whether we think he’ll be ready to handle it the first game of the year or the 10th game, we just don’t know,” Beane said. “I think we’ll just have a feel. If we think he can handle it up here, we’ll make that decision.”

Obviously Beane has not read Cespedes’ glowing press clippings. Or maybe he’s just not as impressed at someone smacking a Jeff Francis “fastball” over the fence as I am. But you know me: I’m always an optimist.

I’m guessing he starts Opening Day, however. He’s going to be a draw. And, even if he’s not quite the hitter he showed in a single outing against some average pitching on a random March afternoon, he’s much more of a power threat than whoever would take his place in the A’s lineup, right?

One other thing: Every article I’ve seen spells his name “Yoenis.”  His locker in the A’s clubhouse in Phoenix, however, has the nameplate “Yoenys Cespedes” over it.  Anyone care to advise?

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.