There has been an insane amount of attention paid to Michael Pineda this spring. First his weight, then his velocity. Now, if you can believe it, there are questions about whether he even makes the team:
That’s just insane to me. Not just because Pineda had a really nice rookie season last year which shows that he can get major league hitters out. And not just because he has been perfectly respectable this spring — he has struck out 16 batters in 16 and a third innings. But rather, because I can’t feature the Yankees wanting to deal with the talk radio and newspaper crap they’d get if the guy they traded for Jesus Montero starts in the minors.
Maybe they don’t care — the Yankees probably care way less about that stuff than a lot of teams — but starting Pineda in the minors seems like rash move.
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.