A-Rod could go to federal court before fighting his suspension in arbitration

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Steven Marcus of Newsday reported over the weekend that Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension will begin this week, at least preliminarily, with a status conference.  He tweets today, however, that A-Rod’s team is considering other options before sitting down for an arbitration with Major League Baseball:

 

This isn’t necessarily surprising. As we saw with the NFL bounty case, a person with little to lose — and given the length of A-Rod’s suspension he has little to lose — can possibly make some headway against his suspension by doing an end-run around league discipline and going to court. I’m not sure what sort of theory A-Rod could advance in court — maybe saying that Bud Selig violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement in leveling the discipline that he did — but it’s quite possible that this is a means of putting pressure on the league to come back to the table and try to negotiate a lighter suspension.

Meanwhile, the Yankees, thanks in part to Rodriguez, are still in the wild card hunt. Which has to be driving Selig absolutely nuts.

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.