Aroldis Chapman threw live batting practice today for the third time in the past week and reported no problems, so it looks like the Reds left-hander is ready for a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from facial fractures following a line drive to the face on March 19.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that Chapman threw 25 pitches, including sliders and changeups, and could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Thursday at Single-A.
Chapman indicated that he’ll probably need 4-5 rehab games before coming off the disabled list, which would put his potential return timetable somewhere around mid-May. At the time of the injury initial estimates suggested he’d be out for 6-8 weeks, so Chapman is right on track and perhaps a bit ahead of schedule.
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.