Cuban pitcher Misael Siverio defects to United States

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Amid reports that Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is close to signing a big long-term contract another Cuban pitcher, Misael Siverio, has apparently defected with an eye toward free agency.

Siverio left the Cuban national team while it was playing exhibition games in Iowa and
gave a statement to El Nuevo Herald saying:

Leaving behind your country is not easy, but this was a decision that I gave a lot of thought. Of course, my dream is to play in the majors, and from now on I will start taking the first steps to make it happen.

According to the Associated Press he’s been removed from Cuba’s official roster and is no longer considered part of the team. Some current MLB stars who recently defected from Cuba include Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasiel Puig, and there’s speculation that Gonzalez’s eventual deal will be worth as much as $50 million.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.