Mentioned it in the recaps but it deserves mention again: Shane Victorino went 3 for 3 with two home runs and seven RBI against the Orioles last night. That brings his season line up to .292/.346/.446 with 11 homers, 48 driven in while adding 17 stolen bases against only three times caught. And that’s before talking about his defense which has been absolutely superb in right field.
When the Red Sox signed Victorino this past December many mocked. Including this guy, who made cracks about how a team with Bill James on the payroll could commit $13 million a year for three years to a guy who was coming off a below average season and looked to no longer be a defensive plus (at least in center). We don’t know what 2014 and 2015 will hold for Victorino, but as of now it appears as though he was one of the best if not the best free agent signings of the winter. Some will argue that no matter what he does the next two years the value he’s provided in 2013 justifies the entire $39 million deal.
Also in the conversation: Torii Hunter, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Zack Greinke. Possibly Marlon Byrd. But there is no doubt that the Sox did well snagging the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
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.