Rangers, D-Backs involved as market for Shin-Soo Choo reaches “critical stage”

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With Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury off the board, Shin-Soo Choo is the biggest name remaining in the free agent market. And it sounds like he could find a new home during this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida:

Many have speculated that the Tigers could also be involved, though that’s not confirmed.

David Murphy recently signed a two-year deal with the Indians while Craig Gentry was dealt to the Athletics, so the Rangers have some big questions in left field. Michael Choice, who was acquired in the Gentry deal is one option, though it’s unlikely they’ll go that way. Choo would obviously address that need quite nicely, though it will take around $100 million to make it happen.

On a related note, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed to Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram that he met with the agent for Nelson Cruz today. However, he added that the team has likely already made their big offseason splash with the Prince Fielder deal. Sounds exactly like someone who could have something big cooking.

UPDATE: Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks are also in on Choo and remain “active on multiple fronts.”

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.