Carlos Quentin to begin minor league rehab assignment Tuesday

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Carlos Quentin is inching closer to his Padres’ debut following March knee surgery.

According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Quentin is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with Triple-A Tucson.

Quentin has slowly increased baseball activities after being cleared for live batting practice earlier this month. Padres manager Bud Black told Hayes that the 29-year-old outfielder will need more than seven games in the minors to get ready, so we likely won’t see him with the big club until late next week.

Quentin, a San Diego native, was acquired from the White Sox in late December after batting .254/.340/.499 with 24 homers, 77 RBI and an .838 OPS over 483 plate appearances last year. He can become a free agent this offseason, but while the Padres expressed some initial interest in a contract extension, his name figures to eventually pop up in trade talks.

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.