A’s acquire George Kottaras from Brewers for Fautino De Los Santos

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As soon as the Brewers designated George Kottaras for assignment last week the clock was ticking on a trade and sure enough it’s now official: Milwaukee has sent the veteran catcher to Oakland for reliever Fautino De Los Santos.

Kottaras makes up for a low batting average with good power and excellent plate discipline, so it’s not surprising that the A’s viewed him as a solid pickup. And given how poorly starting catcher Kurt Suzuki has played this season–and really, dating back to 2010–Kottaras has a chance to work his way into more than a typical backup role.

Milwaukee essentially chose Martin Maldonado over Kottaras as Jonathan Lucroy’s backup and getting De Los Santos in return is solid value. Injuries have sidetracked his career, but the 26-year-old former top prospect has 46 strikeouts in 36 innings as a big leaguer and has the potential to be a late-inning bullpen option.

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.