Not even mid-November yet and we’re already into the “do they like him or do they like like him?” phase of free agency. With the Red Sox and Tim Hudson, they seem to like like him, reports Jon Heyman. Heyman adds that the Sox are “big admirers” of Hudson and that they “really want him.”
He is attractive. For one thing he’s bald, and bald is beautiful. For another thing he’s a free agent pitcher who neither will require a really long contract nor has a qualifying offer attached to him, thereby not costing a would-be signing team a draft pick. And he’s still a decent pitcher at age 38, having gone 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 21 starts last year.
It was only 21 starts because of the broken ankle he suffered in that game against the Mets. On that score, David O’Brein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hudson had a screw removed from his ankle today and will be cleared to run in couple of weeks. So all signs point to him being ready for spring training.
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.