Bryce Harper
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Report: Phillies expected to make an offer to Bryce Harper this week

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According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Phillies will make a formal offer to free agent outfielder Bryce Harper within a week of their meeting in Las Vegas. The two sides came together for a five-hour meeting on Saturday, which was reportedly attended by Harper’s wife, Kayla, as well as agent Scott Boras, club owner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak, assistant GM Ned Rice, and skipper Gabe Kapler. While few details were divulged in Nightengale’s report, whatever was said behind closed doors clearly gave the Phillies some indication that Harper would be receptive to any future offer they might make.

That falls into line with a recent report from Matt Breen of Philly.com, who suggested that the Phillies “remain optimistic” that they’ll sign either Harper or fellow free agent Manny Machado before the offseason officially comes to a close. Of the two, Harper may be closer to inking a deal, as other suitors like the Nationals and White Sox don’t appear to have made any significant progress in negotiations with the slugger over the last week or so.

Machado, meanwhile, is still said to be courted by the White Sox, Phillies, and an as-yet undisclosed mystery team. While the hot-hitting infielder was recently connected to the Yankees after a meeting in December, ESPN’s Buster Olney claims that any serious talks between the two are “either dormant or completely dead” at this point. The White Sox may yet emerge as the frontrunner to land Machado, though they’re reportedly offering a long-term deal in the neighborhood of $200 million — about $100 million less than the All-Star is rumored to be seeking.

Ron Roenicke fired by Red Sox after one season

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BOSTON — Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke will not return in 2021, the team said before its final game on Sunday, ending his tenure as a one-year, shotgun stopgap for a pandemic-shortened season with a last-place finish in the AL East.

Hired on the eve of spring training after Alex Cora was caught cheating during his time in Houston, Roenicke took over a roster that would soon shed 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price, who were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ace Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) and Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) never threw a pitch for the team this year.

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom also commended Roenicke for navigating the coronavirus shutdown and for holding the team together when racial protests interrupted the season.

“He did a tremendous job under really challenging and basically unprecedented circumstances,” said Bloom, who met with Roenicke in Atlanta on Sunday morning to give him the news.

“As you would expect, he handled it really well. Probably better than I did,” Bloom said on a Zoom call. “I think he is just an incredible human being.”

Sure to get attention as a possible successor: Cora, who led the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2018, his first season as a major league manager. The team split with him less than a month before spring training after he was identified as the ringleader in the Houston sign-stealing scandal; Cora’s one-year suspension for that scandal ends after the World Series.

With Cora gone, the Red Sox promoted Roenicke from bench coach to interim manager. They removed the temporary tag in April, during the coronavirus shutdown, when Roenicke was cleared in the commissioner’s investigation into sign-stealing by the Red Sox during their championship season.

He was not given an extension on the one year he had remaining on the contract he had signed as a bench coach — fueling speculation that Cora could be welcomed back after serving his penalty.

The Red Sox dismissed such suggestions dismissed such suggestions at the time, but on Sunday Bloom refused to rule a return either in or out.

“I thought Ron deserved to be evaluated without anyone looking over his shoulder,” Bloom said, declining to comment further because “I don’t want to say anything about Alex that I haven’t said to Alex.”

Roenicke, 64, spent five years as the Brewers manager from 2010-15, winning 96 games and the NL Central title in his first season and finishing as runner-up for NL manager of the year. In all, he led Milwaukee to a 342-331 record in five seasons.

He was 23-36 with the Red Sox entering Sunday’s games. Bloom said he wanted to break the news to Roenicke before the end of the season.

“If Ron wanted the chance to look his players in the eye before we part ways … I didn’t want to take that from him,” Bloom said.

An infielder on Boston’s 2007 champions, Cora was mentioned 11 times in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision on the Astros, which said Cora developed the cheating system. Cora left Houston to become Boston’s manager after the 2017 season and led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins and the World Series title.

But fallout from the Astros investigation caused Cora and newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran to lose their jobs.