Orioles interested in free agents Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano

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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports is reporting that the Orioles are talking with free agent starters Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano. The Orioles had previously shown interest in A.J. Burnett; their newfound interest in Saunders and Capuano could indicate that they have moved on in their pursuit of starting pitching.

Saunders pitched for the Orioles briefly in 2012, posting a 3.63 ERA in seven starts. The 32-year-old spent 2013 with the Mariners, finishing with a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings.

Capuano, 35, has spent the last two seasons with the Dodgers. He finished 2012 with a 3.72 over 33 starts. Last season, he made just 20 starts, suffering from a left calf strain, a strained lat in his pitching shoulder, and a strained left groin.

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.