Red Sox tried and failed to land Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson

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The Red Sox were negotiating with the Marlins on a deal that would have sent Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson to Boston before the Jays pulled off the trade that also netted them Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.

Red Sox owner John Henry told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that even though the sides were talking, he had no idea “the whole team was available.”

Acquiring Reyes and Johnson would have been a return to old form for a Boston team that traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers in August. It would have added about $24 million to the team’s 2013 payroll, minus any major leaguers that went to Miami in return.

The Red Sox, though, were probably looking at it as though the Marlins would be open to a straight salary dump. The Blue Jays not only took Buehrle’s contract along with the other two, but they sent back three quality prospects in return.

Boston GM Ben Cherington might not be done with the Marlins just yet, though. The Red Sox would be smart to explore a Logan Morrison trade with first base open. They should also be prepared to blow up the minor league system for Giancarlo Stanton if the Marlins have a change of heart and make him available. Finally, they’re one of the teams that could consider Ricky Nolasco and his soon-to-be traded $11.5 million contract, though it seems doubtful they’ll be very aggressive there.

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.