MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports that the Angels have released OF/DH Raul Ibanez.
The 42-year-old has had a tough year at the plate, slashing .157/.258/.265 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 190 plate appearances. It’s a far cry from the numbers he put up with the Mariners last season, when he hit 29 home runs and posted a .793 OPS.
Given his age and rapidly declining production, Ibanez will likely consider retirement. Ibanez is a veteran of 19 seasons, having hit 303 career home runs, driven in 1,202 runs, and the author of a 273/.336/.467 slash line. He made his only All-Star team in 2009 with the Phillies.
Ibanez’s departure means more playing time for C.J. Cron. In 110 plate appearances in his first season in the major leagues, Cron is slashing .283/.309/.491 with four home runs and 16 RBI.
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.