Reds, Pirates and Indians among teams interested in Carlos Quentin

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The next 24 hours will be dominated by All-Star Game coverage, but it won’t be long before this space is filled with rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And we’re already hearing some chatter regarding one of the most popular names on the market.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Reds, Pirates and Indians are among the teams who have expressed interest in Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin. The Marlins inquired at one point, but it’s not clear if they still have interest after acquiring Carlos Lee last week. The Tigers and Blue Jays were initially mentioned as possibilities, but they are now looking to upgrade in other areas.

The Padres acquired Quentin from the White Sox during the offseason, but their poor first half (34-53) has rendered him a logical trade chip. The 29-year-old didn’t make his season debut until May 28 following knee surgery, but he’s hitting .268/.408/.518 with seven home runs, 17 RBI and a .924 OPS through 138 plate appearances. While the Padres have expressed interest in a long-term deal for the San Diego native, the team’s unsettled ownership situation puts a wrinkle into any such plans.

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.