Trevor Plouffe on track to return from thumb injury on Monday

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Trevor Plouffe hasn’t played since jamming his right thumb on a swing back on July 20, but he could be back in the Twins’ starting lineup on Monday if all goes according to plan.

Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Plouffe was cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment after making it through batting practice last night without any discomfort in his thumb. He’s slated to play with Triple-A Rochester on Saturday and Sunday and could be activated for Monday’s series opener against the Tigers.

Plouffe has been a pleasant surprise for the fourth-place Twins this season, batting .259/.330/.425 with 19 home runs, 38 RBI and an .855 OPS in 74 games played.

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.