In the middle of last night’s loss to the Red Sox, starter Alex Cobb and catcher Jose Molina had to be separated in the Rays dugout after an altercation that manager Joe Maddon called simply “boys being boys.”
However, according to Greg Zeck of MLB.com Molina refused to speak to the media afterward and Cobb insisted to reporters that he wasn’t the one who started the fight:
That’s the one thing I want to be clear, is that I wouldn’t approach a teammate like that. That was not instigated by me. … I got some texts from people [who] think it was me, but that wasn’t instigated by me at all.
Based on the MLB.com video it looks like Cobb is right about Molina doing the instigating or at least being the far more vocal of the two at the beginning of the incident. Cobb also said that he didn’t speak to Molina after the game, which suggests it wasn’t exactly squashed immediately.
Certainly the Rays can’t be blamed for being frustrated as their playoff hopes slip away, but if Molina was the one instigating the dugout altercation it’s interesting considering the light-hitting veteran catcher was signed specifically for his ability to handle a pitching staff and help young pitchers like the 24-year-old Cobb.
Also: I’m setting the hypothetical betting line at Molina -350 over Cobb.
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.