After a bit of a slow start in the majors, Astros rookie outfielder George Springer is beginning to figure things out.
Springer homered in his fourth straight game tonight while going 4-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk, and five runs scored in a 9-2 victory over the Royals. The 24-year-old has five home runs and 11 RBI during this recent stretch and is now batting .268/.348/.500 with eight home runs and 25 RBI over his first 35 games in the majors. Among players with at least 150 plate appearances, he’s tied for 14th in the American League in slugging percentage and ranks 17th with an .848 OPS.
Springer scuffled to the tune of a .170 batting average through his first 12 games in the majors, but he’s hitting .319 over his last 23 games. Strikeouts have still been an issue for him even during his recent run of success, but there’s reason for Astros fans to be very excited here.
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.