Astros, Dallas Keuchel table extension talks until the off-season

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The Astros and ace Dallas Keuchel have tabled extension talks until the off-season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. He notes that the Astros would like to sign him to at least a four-year deal, which would cover at least one of his free agency years.

Keuchel, 27, will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season, and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season. He’s due a hefty raise over his 2015 salary of $524,500, as he currently leads the American League with 16 wins and a 2.24 ERA, along with a 173/42 K/BB ratio over 192 2/3 innings. The lefty finished with a 2.93 ERA last season as well.

The Astros enter play Friday with a 73-61 record, leading the AL West by two games over the Rangers. They stand a good chance at ending their post-season drought, which extends back to 2005, so it may not be until late October or November that the two sides will discuss a new contract.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.