Reds manager Bryan Price wants his team to be aggressive on the bases

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that the Reds’ 67 stolen bases as a team last season was the franchise’s lowest total since 1971. Shin-Soo Choo, now a Ranger, led the team with 20 stolen bases but was inefficient, needing 31 attempts to do so. Billy Hamilton ranked second on the team with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and he was a September call-up.

Hamilton was a prolific base stealer in the Minors, stealing 75 last season, 155 in 2012, and 103 in 2011. He’s expected to be the team’s everyday center fielder and lead-off man in 2014.

Manager Bryan Price wants to team to be more aggressive on the bases, and he isn’t just talking about Hamilton. From Crasnick:

“I know that we need to be able to create scoring opportunities, especially in that bottom third of our lineup,” Price said. “Being station to station didn’t give us as many opportunities to score as I would have liked. We have to be somewhat creative.”

Two candidates to run more often in 2014: Shortstop Zack Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier.

Price added, “When we talk about being aggressive on the bases, it means working hard on your secondary leads, understanding where the fielders are, and knowing the game situation and score in the inning.”

Despite the reputation, the Reds were baseball’s seventh-best base running team according to Baseball Prospectus. Cozart was by far the team’s most productive runner, adding seven runs, five more than Jay Bruce in second place.

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.