After the Diamondbacks surprisingly slithered in to sign Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal over the weekend, the general feeling was that they would trade one of their outfielders. Not much has changed on that front over the Christmas holiday.
One person familiar with the Diamondbacks’ thinking told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that “someone will go.” The implication here is that Justin Upton, Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra are all potentially available via trade. However, Heyman hears that the D-Backs would prefer to keep Parra because of his defense. It also helps that he’s cheap and remains under team control through 2015.
There are still quite a few teams who could be in the market for an outfielder, including the Rangers, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Braves and Rays. The Rangers have been mentioned most frequently in trade talks for Upton this offseason, but general manager Jon Daniels has reportedly been reluctant to part with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in a potential deal.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.