It’s not clear why Cleveland gave Jose Lopez this long of a leash considering this is the third straight season in which he’s failed to crack a .700 OPS, but the Indians finally saw enough and designated the former All-Star for assignment.
Lopez hit just .249 with four homers and a .639 OPS in 66 games, including .192 in the second half. He’s still just 28 years old, but Lopez hasn’t been a productive regular since 2009 and hasn’t shown that he’s capable of being useful in a part-time role.
Cleveland cut Lopez in order to add an extra reliever in right-hander Frank Herrmann, who was called up from Triple-A.
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.