Out since early July with a strained oblique muscle, Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is set to come off the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Astros.
Mauer went 6-for-15 (.400) on a four-game minor-league rehab assignment at Single-A without experiencing any setbacks, and Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that the former MVP is on his way to Houston to rejoin the team.
Mauer got off to a terrible start this season after sitting out the end of last year following a concussion and moving from catcher to first base, but he was hitting .320 in his last 20 games and had an active 12-game hitting streak at the time of the oblique injury.
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.