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Athletics release Santiago Casilla

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have released reliever Santiago Casilla. The club had designated him for assignment on Saturday.

Casilla, 37, posted a 3.16 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 20 walks in 31 1/3 innings of relief for the A’s in the first half. The ERA is certainly not bad, but the strikeout and walk rates are subpar and point to a pitcher who won’t be successful going forward without changing. Additionally, Casilla’s fastball velocity, at 92.9 MPH on average, is the lowest of his career.

Casilla is owed the remainder of his $5.5 million salary for the 2018 season. If he should sign elsewhere, the A’s would be on the hook for the remainder minus the prorated major league minimum salary.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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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.