Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and pitcher Merrill Kelly have agreed to a two-year, $5.5 million contract. The deal also includes club options for 2021 ($4.25 million with $500,000 buyout) and 2022 ($5.25 million, no buyout).
Kelly, 30, was selected by the Rays in the eighth round of the 2010 draft. He pitched in the Rays’ minor league system through 2014, reaching Triple-A and generally posting good numbers, though he never received a call up to the majors. Kelly signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization for the 2015-18 seasons. Overseas, Kelly showed an improved ability to strike batters out and also displayed better command than he did in the minors, which helped pique the D-Backs’ interest.
Passan notes that Kelly is expected to be part of the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation, which presently includes Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley, and Robbie Ray.
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.