Free agent right-hander Nick Tepesch has a minor league deal with the Blue Jays, per a team announcement on Saturday. The deal does not include an invitation to spring training.
Tepesch, 29, was originally acquired by the Blue Jays when the Twins dealt him for cash considerations last July. He made just three starts with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.14 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 4.5 SO/9 over 14 innings. While he looked a little better in Triple-A Buffalo, he has yet to prove himself as a viable starter in the big leagues. The righty hasn’t seen a full major league season since 2014, due in part to a prolonged recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome in 2015.
Whether he’ll get there anytime soon is unclear, but the Blue Jays don’t appear to have big plans for him either way. Tepesch will likely slot in behind right-hander Joe Biagini as rotation depth, should injuries continue to trouble the team’s projected top five starters: Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Jaime Garcia.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.