Royals fire hitting coach Kevin Seitzer

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Kansas City finished 12th in the 14-team American League in runs scored this season and today the Royals fired hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.

Seitzer was hired as hitting coach before the 2009 season and the Royals have ranked 12th, 6th, 10th, and 13th among AL teams in scoring during those four years.

Eric Hosmer regressing after a very strong rookie season and Mike Moustakas failing to take a big step forward no doubt played a part in Seitzer being let go, although under his tutelage Alex Gordon turned his career around, Billy Butler emerged as an elite bat, and this season young hitters Salvador Perez Alcides Escobar fared well.

Aside from firing Seitzer the rest of manager Ned Yost’s coaching staff will remain intact for 2013.

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.