Rays sign infielder Mike Fontenot to minor league deal

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Mike Fontenot, who was released by the Phillies in August, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rays.

Once upon a time Fontenot looked like a solid regular, but his stock has dipped dramatically in recent years. He got a late start in the majors and then hit .291 with an .826 OPS in 205 games through his first two seasons for the Cubs, but in four years since then he’s hit just .252 with a .686 OPS in 370 games.

He has experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, but at age 32 he’ll have to hit more to have any sort of significant big-league value. Tampa Bay also re-signed outfielder Rich Thompson to a minor-league deal and odds are he’ll be teammates with Fontenot at Triple-A.

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.