Pirates catcher Chris Stewart needs knee surgery

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The Pirates acquired Chris Stewart from the Yankees to serve as Russell Martin’s backup, but now the 31-year-old catcher is likely headed for surgery after injuring his knee in a game last week.

Stewart didn’t figure to play much for the Pirates considering he’s a career .214 hitter and Martin started 117 games last year. In his place 25-year-old former first-round draft pick Tony Sanchez will make the Opening Day roster and may end up seeing more action than Stewart would have if the Pirates don’t want to let him rot on the bench.

Sanchez’s prospect stock dipped a ton in 2011 and 2012, but the former No. 4 overall pick hit .288 with 10 homers, 26 doubles, and an .872 OPS in 76 games at Triple-A last season. Martin is an impending free agent, so the Pirates may try to groom Sanchez to take over behind the plate full time in 2015.

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.