Beat writer Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports that right-handed reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo — formerly known as Leo Nunez — finally reported to Rays camp this weekend.
Oviedo was held up by work visa issues in the Dominican Republic — his native country. “I’m happy to be here. I was waiting for it, I was anxious to be here, but I didn’t know what was going on,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “I just trained at home and waited for things to happen.”
The 32-year-old signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Rays in December. He hasn’t pitched at the major league level since 2011 but Rays manager Joe Maddon expects him to be a contributor in 2014.
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.