CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes that the Blue Jays have free agent Francisco Rodriguez on their radar, but they are “trying to trade for a closer first.”
Who could the Blue Jays be targeting? There are a couple of notable possibilities out there. Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reported during the Winter Meetings that they were interested in Royals closer Greg Holland. Holland’s teammate, Wade Davis, is also believed to be on the block. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this month that the Nationals were shopping set-up man Tyler Clippard. He’d be a pretty nice fit too.
Rodriguez isn’t a bad alternative if they can’t find a match on the trade front. He had a 3.04 ERA with 44 saves and a 73/18 K/BB ratio over 66 innings with the Brewers in 2014. He’ll turn 33 next week.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.