Sent to the minors by the Red Sox to get back into game shape after sitting out the first six weeks of the season, Stephen Drew played shortstop for a full game last night at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Mike Scandura of MLB.com reports that Drew was originally slated to play designated hitter, but felt good enough physically to put in the nine innings at shortstop instead. However, he went 0-for-4 at the plate and is 4-for-15 (.267) with seven strikeouts and one walk in five minor-league games overall.
Because the Red Sox had to pass Drew through waivers unclaimed before sending him to the minors in a procedural move he has to remain there for at least 10 days before joining the active roster and it’s possible they’ll decide he needs a bit more time than that based on his performance. June 2 is the earliest he could return to the majors after signing a one-year, $10.1 million deal that equals a prorated share of the qualifying offer he turned down to start the offseason.
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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.