I wrote yesterday about how Cubs president Theo Epstein refuses to say that manager Dale Sveum will definitely be back next season despite being under contract. So what does Sveum think of his uncertain job status?
When asked about Epstein’s various quotes leaving things up in the air, Sveum told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
They have to evaluate, just like we have to evaluate our players and make a decision when the season is over on them as well. It’s the same thing. It’s the way the game is. … I’ve been happy with the way we’ve done things. Obviously some things haven’t gone too well, and some things have gone really well. I’m happy with my coaching staff, but that’s up to them. They’re the bosses and they make those decisions and evaluate.
I don’t have any hard-and-fast numbers to back this up, but generally speaking if the front office won’t say that a manager will definitely return the next season his odds of returning are pretty low. For whatever it’s worth first baseman Anthony Rizzo praised Sveum yesterday, saying: “I think Dale has done a really good job this year, especially with Starlin and me. We didn’t live up to what we’re supposed to do. That’s the game of baseball.”
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.