Not so fast: GM says Alex Rodriguez is not skipping Yankees’ final series

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UPDATE: General manager Brian Cashman denied the New York Daily News report linked below, calling it “not accurate” and telling Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger that Rodriguez has not asked to skip the final road trip.

UPDATE #2: Joe Girardi also chimed in, saying he expects Rodriguez to be in Houston because “he does not have permission to not be there.”

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Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News reports that Alex Rodriguez will not travel with the Yankees to Houston for the last series of the season, skipping the final three games in order to prepare for an arbitration hearing surrounding his performance-enhancing drug suspension.

According to Thompson the Yankees granted Rodriguez permission with the hearing scheduled for next week, which means it’s possible that tonight’s game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium could be A-Rod’s final game in a Yankees uniform for … well, a while.

Rodriguez is facing a 211-game suspension, but has been able to resume playing for the Yankees while his appeal is pending and hit .244 with seven homers and a .771 OPS in 44 games. That’s the lowest OPS of Rodriguez’s career, but still ranks third among all Yankees with at least 100 plate appearances this season behind only Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano.

Calcaterra wrote earlier this week about Rodriguez’s legal team, which could be costing him six figures per month.

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.