Matt Kemp won’t pick Bryce Harper for Home Run Derby

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MLB decided a year ago to spice things up a bit by letting a captain pick his roster for the Home Run Derby. It added to the fun the first time it was tried. Things might be starting to get interesting this time around, too.

Despite popular demand, Matt Kemp told USATODAY that 19-year-old Bryce Harper won’t be picked for the NL squad.

“It’s not because he’s a rookie. It’s just that there are other guys out there that are capable,” Kemp said. “I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a good job in the Home Run Derby. He’s going to have plenty of time to participate in many Home Run Derbies. Just not this year. Nothing against him. I love watching him play.”

Kemp expects to compete himself, even though he’ll still likely be on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. That leaves three openings for the likes of Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Beltran and others. Harper doesn’t really merit a selection based on performance, as he has a modest seven homers in 198 at-bats. It’d be more a case of giving the fans what they want.

The Nationals, though, probably prefer it this way, given the number of past participants who claim to have messed up their swing by taking part in the Home Run Derby. Just 19, Harper might be more vulnerable to that than most.

Diamondbacks say they’re not rebuilding

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Despite losing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock to free agency, then trading Jean Segura to the Phillies and Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks insist they’re not entering a rebuilding mode, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports.

Most likely, this is just the D-Backs saving face publicly given how much contention there has been between ownership and the players’ union over teams aggressively not competing. The D-Backs aren’t expected to be in the running for any of the bigger-name free agents, so it’s going to be very tough to replace the production lost from Corbin, Pollock, Segura, and Goldschmidt. The smart money is still on expecting the D-Backs to continue trading away players like Robbie Ray and David Peralta. Greinke might stay, but only because of his contract, which still has three years and $95.5 million remaining.