Mariners designate Aaron Harang for assignment

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The Mariners now have an opening for Taijuan Walker in their rotation if they want to take it.

Aaron Harang, who have up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday in a loss to the Angels, was designated for assignment Monday. It was the fourth time in his last eight starts that he had given up seven runs, and he fell to 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for the year.

Harang’s stint in Seattle was quite the roller coaster ride. He’s one of just seven pitchers with multiple shutout this year, having blanked the Padres on May 27 and the Astros on June 11.  He also had five starts in which he allowed just one run, three of them coming since the All-Star break.

Overall, Harang had a solid 87/26 K/BB ratio in 120 1/3 innings, but he had given up 21 homers even with Safeco Field helping him along. What hasn’t helped in a Seattle defense that rates among the worst in the league.

Of course, now that it’s too late for Harang, the Mariners are getting their best defensive outfielder back today in Franklin Gutierrez. He was activated from the DL to replace Harang on the roster. Brandon Maurer and Hector Noesi are a couple of possibilities to take his rotation spot. The Mariners could also give Walker, their No. 1 prospect, a look next month. The 21-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA and a 64/27 K/BB ratio in 57 1/3 IP since moving up to Triple-A Tacoma.

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.