Twins have Jarrod Saltalamacchia on their radar

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Now in the mix for a catcher after moving Joe Mauer to first base, the Twins could pursue free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. He suggests Salty could fetch a three-year deal in the $30 million range, which is in the Twins’ affordability range. They currently have $46 million committed to six players after opening up the 2013 season at $86 million.

Saltalamacchia is coming off of his best season, a tremendous improvement over 2012. He increased his batting average and on-base percentage by about 50 points each, and some felt his defense took a step forward as well. As he turns 29 years old in May, signing him to a three-year pact wouldn’t be as much of a risk as the Yankees signing Brian McCann for five years, as an example.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.