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Bryce Harper Rumors
The Nationals rewrote Major League history on Sunday in yet another sign that the beleaguered franchise has turned the proverbial corner. Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi became the first rookies to hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game in the modern era. Here's the latest odds and ends from around the league as we look forward to Monday's amateur draft…
- Alfonso Soriano is open to being traded to a contender as he concedes his career is winding down at 36, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Soriano has made himself an attractive trade candidate with a 2012 slash line of .267/.311/.460, but remains unlikely to be moved thanks to his hefty contract. The Cubs owe Soriano the remainder of his $18MM salary for this year and $36MM over the next two seasons.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum hasn't seen team president Theo Epstein or scouting chief Jason McLeod in days and that's because they are in lockdown mode for Monday's amateur draft, says Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "Theo and Jason and Jed (Hoyer), they've had a whole different system in the draft, and obviously it's worked pretty well," Sveum said. "The high picks they had in Boston panned out pretty good." Equipped with the sixth pick in the draft, the Cubs are expected to take high school center fielder Albert Almora or Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa based upon projections from Baseball America.
- Look for the Mets to consider making minor moves at the trade deadline rather than taking on salary to acquire an expensive veteran, writes Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com. Cerrone points to Buster Olney's comments on Sunday night in which he stated that the team is focused on the big picture when Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler arrive in Queens in as soon as 14 months.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels created a stir last night by admitting he hit Nationals rookie Bryce Harper intentionally. Though Harper didn’t publicly express frustration at being hit, GM Mike Rizzo fired back at Hamels this morning. The details and other NL East-related notes…
- Rizzo called Hamels' act the most "classless, gutless" thing he's seen in his career, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school,” Rizzo said. “He’s fake tough." I’d recommend reading Kilgore’s entire piece for the details.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports points out that Hamels won't be signing with the Nationals next offseason and writes that Rizzo will be lucky if he is not reprimanded for his comments.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes that there's "nothing doing" with respect to an extension for Hamels (Twitter link).
- Morosi expects Harper to stay in the Major Leagues for good, since he's played too well to be sent down to the minor leagues (video link).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Rizzo's comments were an overreaction to legitimate old school play from Hamels (video link).
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com suggests the Nationals may make a trade instead of relying on Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina in left field (Twitter link).
- Jim Callis of Baseball America hasn't given up on Phillies prospect Domonic Brown despite his struggles. Brown could still hit for a high average with 20 homers per season to go along with plus speed and arm strength, Callis writes.
Hank Aaron joined Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the 600 home run club with a round tripper against the Giants on this date in 1971. Here are today's links…
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak joined Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo on MLB Network Radio and said his team's starting pitching has been better than expected. Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn have pitched well for the Cardinals in the early going, so the team hasn't had to seek external reinforcements even with Chris Carpenter sidelined.
- High school shortstop Corey Seager, the younger brother of Mariners infielder Kyle Seager, is now seen as a likely first round pick in the upcoming amateur draft, ESPN.com's Keith Law reports. Law won't be surprised if Seager's a top-20 pick this year, though he may have to change positions eventually.
- J.J. Cooper of Baseball America points out that Bryce Harper will be more than two years younger than the next youngest Major Leaguer when he debuts tomorrow. The Nationals are calling up the 19-year-old Harper, who's considerably younger than Erasmo Ramirez of the Mariners and Jose Altuve of the Astros.
The Nationals have announced that they're promoting outfielder Bryce Harper to the Major Leagues tomorrow (Twitter link). Harper will take Ryan Zimmerman's place on the active roster and the third baseman will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Harper's service clock begins now, but the Nationals delayed his debut long enough to postpone his free agency by a full year. Even if Harper sticks in the Major Leagues — a big 'if' for any 19-year-old — the Nationals will control his rights through 2018.
As I explained earlier this week, teams can now call up players, even those on 40-man rosters, without losing their rights for the 2018 season. Harper's service clock could stop and start many times over the course of the next few years, but at the moment he projects to become arbitration eligible as a super two following the 2014 season. He projects to go to arbitration four times and hit free agency following the 2018 campaign.
The Nationals selected Harper first overall in the 2010 draft, but he signed late and his pro career didn't begin in earnest until 2011. Harper posted a .297/.392/.501 line with 17 home runs and 26 stolen bases across three levels last year and has a .250/.333/.375 line at Triple-A Syracuse this year.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Here's the latest out of Washington…
- Despite Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury, the Nationals would still consider trading John Lannan, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The team "is not going to give Lannan away," however. The Red Sox and Tigers have been linked to Lannan, though trade speculation about the southpaw has quieted in the wake of Wang's injury. If Lannan is dealt, however, Washington still has Ross Detwiler to act as the fifth starter or as rotation depth if Wang is healthy.
- Stephen Strasburg is on a 160-inning cap this season, and Fangraphs' Paul Swydan looks at how the Nats can try can manage Strasburg's starts throughout a possible pennant race.
- If the Nationals leave Bryce Harper in the minors through July 1 and prevent him from obtaining Super Two status, ESPN's Dave Cameron (Insider subscription required) calculates the team could save as much as $14MM in future salary for the former #1 overall draft pick.
- GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that service time was "a piece of the equation" related to sending Harper to Triple-A but the move was made to help Harper's development. Rizzo pointed out that the Nationals aren't afraid to call up a young star if they need him, such as when Drew Storen was put in line to be a Super Two when he was called up in 2010, though Rizzo admitted Harper's and Storen's situations are quite different.
- In a separate piece from Stark, he talks to a scout who feels Harper should've started the season at Double-A, not Triple-A. "To be honest with you, if they sent him to Double-A, I actually think he'd be challenged there," said the scout. "Triple-A is filled with guys who have been in the big leagues and know how to pitch….So at this stage, it's not a slam dunk he'll go to Triple-A and tear it up. It'll be interesting to see how he does."
The Mets' owners reached a $162MM settlement with the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme earlier today. Here are some more notes from the NL East…
- The Phillies announced that second baseman Chase Utley “has come to a bit of a plateau” in his rehab. He’ll travel out of town for a few days to see a specialist for his knees, the team added. Utley's chance of playing on Opening Day seem slim and prospect Freddy Galvis may get his chance at the MLB level.
- The Nationals optioned Bryce Harper to the minor leagues over the weekend, and outsiders aren’t the only ones praising the move. "He is going to be special, but he isn't ready,'' one Nationals veteran told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Mets' owners hope to recover approximately $125MM on loser funds, Heyman tweets. This would reduce their losses to $37MM or so.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes commissioner Bud Selig should step in if the Mets don't start operating like a high-revenue team by next winter (Twitter link).
Earlier today, we learned the Nationals signed outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady to a minor league contract, adding insurance for Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche, who are both battling injuries. Here's more on the Nats and a couple other items of note …
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel implied that his team may look for infield help outside of camp now that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are all dealing with injuries, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. We heard earlier today that the Phils could be interested in someone like utility man Mike Aviles of the Red Sox, although Aviles is tentatively slated to be Boston's starting shortstop as of now.
- The Nationals optioned prized prospect Bryce Harper to minor league camp, the team announced. The Nats will go with an in-house option such as Roger Bernadina and/or Rick Ankiel in center field, a source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com, with Jayson Werth playing right field. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, for one, doesn't think Harper's demotion was related to his arbitration or free-agent clocks (via Twitter).
- Mets manager Terry Collins said Fernando Martinez, now with the Astros, was waived this offseason because the outfielder was unable to stay healthy, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. "I know his talent. I know he's got great talent. Unfortunately, he's been one of those guys who's had a tough time getting the amount of games that I think you have to have to get ready." Martinez, for his part, said he was surprised that the Mets chose to waive him, thinking instead that he thought at times that a trade was possible.
Stephen Strasburg says he'll have to learn when to pitch to hitters and when to overpower them in order to develop further as an MLB pitcher, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Here are some more notes on the Nationals…
- Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang had to be helped off of the field after straining his left hamstring in today's Spring Training game against the Yankees. If Wang misses time with an injury, the Nationals may need trade candidate John Lannan in their Opening Day rotation after all.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com both reported today that Lannan's trade value isn't very high right now.
- Bryce Harper explained that he’s definitely hoping to make the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, Kilgore reports. There was some confusion about Harper's expectations earlier in the week, but he still intends to break camp with the big league team.
- MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince explains why it might make sense for the Nationals to play Harper in center field. "As far as I'm concerned, anybody that can throw and run like he can should have experience at all the outfield positions," manager Davey Johnson said. Harper, who played center field in last night’s exhibition game, could provide the Nationals with stability at a position they’ve had trouble solidifying.
The latest from the NL East…
- The Phillies are looking for infield help, so David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News explores the trade market for infielders. Alberto Callaspo of the Angels and Robert Andino of the Orioles could be available.
- Braves third baseman Chipper Jones tells Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post that he can see similarities between himself and top Nationals prospect Bryce Harper. However, Jones doesn't expect Harper, a fellow first overall draft pick, to approach him. "Let’s just say he doesn’t seem to me to be the type of kid who wants to walk up to me and pick my brain,” Jones said.
- An AL executive doubts the Nationals would get much in return if they trade John Lannan, MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets.
- The Mets maintain interest in signing C.J. Nitkowski, but only if he has no physical issues, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo tweets. The club is in no rush to complete a deal.
- Josh Thole, Gaby Sanchez, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond, Jason Heyward, Roger Bernadina, Chris Coghlan, Giancarlo Stanton, Tommy Hanson, Jonathon Niese, Stephen Strasburg, Bobby Parnell, Cristhian Martinez, Antonio Bastardo, Jonny Venters, Ryan Webb, Ross Detwiler and Henry Rodriguez are among the NL East players who could be arbitration eligible a year from now.
It's only Spring Training, but Jerry Dipoto's new additions looked good in the Angels’ exhibition contest today, as Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times explains. Albert Pujols collected two hits, C.J. Wilson and Brad Mills each pitched two scoreless innings and Chris Iannetta homered. Here are today's links…
- Prince Fielder told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that joining the Tigers was 'a dream come true' that he didn't even dream about. GM Dave Dombrowski says owner Mike Ilitch's aggressiveness made the $214MM Fielder deal possible. "He is in a situation where he wants to win,'' Dombrowski said.
- Mets owner Fred Wilpon will have to pay as much as $83.3MM, a court ruled today, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. Irving Picard seeks to recover that sum for losers in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. All but $1.7MM of that amount is associated with Wilpon's other businesses and charities, so in theory the Mets won't be affected substantially.
- Agent Scott Boras suggested the Mets would be better off if their current owners are replaced, Vincent M. Mallozzi of the New York Times writes. "There has to be an equation where there are requirements for ownership to perform at certain levels, and if they don’t, they would lose their right to own a club and be replaced," Boras said.
- Bryce Harper still has his doubters, but he's clear about his goals for the 2012 season, as Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes. The outfield prospect wants to push his way onto the Nationals’ roster by performing well this Spring Training. Once he gets there, he's "poised to take the mantel from [Alex Rodriguez] as the ballplayer simultaneously most respected and loathed," Passan writes.