Tag Archives: Manny Machado

MLB 2019 Power Rankings: Astros, Dodgers remain at the top of each league as July opens

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Texas Rangers have been a surprise AL contender in 2019

This is a Philadelphia Phillies site, and so the team’s place on my MLB Power Rankings always needs to be highlighted. When I debuted the 2019 rankings on June 1, there were fans upset that the first-place club was in the #15 slot.

By the June 15 rankings, the Phillies had moved up a spot to #14, although by then the team had dropped to second place. Still, I heard complaints from fans who believed the club should be ranked higher.
Maybe now they can admit that the rankings were on to something? The Phillies have now slipped to the #18 spot. They have the 12th-best record in MLB overall, and are buoyed by their defense, tied for 8th in the game. But their hitting attack has been mediocre (15th) and they are seriously weighted down by a pitching staff rated just 25th in baseball.
Fans are allowed to be unrealistic about their team based on pure emotion. My own personal feelings have nothing to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, it’s all about each team’s actual results and statistical performances.
There is never any subjectivity on my part. I take key statistics and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to actually win ball games as well as their performance on offense, on the pitching mound, and in the field.
The MLB Power Rankings will be updated here at Phillies Nation on the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings received another tweak to begin this year. By the end of 2018, I was researching each of the 30 MLB teams current position in the four categories of winning percentageruns scoredpitching OPS, and fielding percentage.
This year, runs-per-game has replaced that simple “runs scored” category in order to get the offensive component. I then assign each of those component category team rankings a 1-30 value and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there was a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage, then by runs-per-game, followed by pitching OPS.

2019 JULY 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Houston Astros repeat at the top of the Power Rankings. But the top four teams remain the same, just with a slight juggling of the order.
The hot risers are the Washington Nationals, who have shot up 11 places since June 1. In the American League, the Texas Rangers are up again, this time from 11 to 8 after going from 16 to 11 in the June 15 rankings. And the Oakland A’s burst up from 12 to 5 this time around.
On the down side, the Milwaukee Brewers have dropped from the top ten down to 16. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres, who like the Phillies landed a huge off-season free agent in Manny Machado, have been struggling along in the lower half. The Friars are 20th for a second straight ranking.
In parentheses are the team’s positions from the June 1 and June 15 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Houston Astros (3-1)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3)
  3. Minnesota Twins (2-2)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4)
  5. Oakland Athletics (8-12)
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5)
  7. Atlanta Braves (12-9)
  8. Texas Rangers (16-11)
  9. New York Yankees (5-8)
  10. Boston Red Sox (6-6)
  11. Chicago Cubs (10-13)
  12. Colorado Rockies (11-7)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19)
  14. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15)
  15. Cleveland Indians (18-18)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16)
  18. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14)
  19. Los Angeles Angels (19-17)
  20. San Diego Padres (17-20)
  21. Miami Marlins (23-26)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21)
  23. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25)
  24. New York Mets (22-23)
  25. San Francisco Giants (29-27)
  26. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28)
  27. Seattle Mariners (26-22)
  28. Chicago White Sox (25-24)
  29. Detroit Tigers (27-29)
  30. Baltimore Orioles (30-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: TEXAS RANGERS

Few people had the Texas Rangers as a serious contender entering the 2019 Major League Baseball season. But the Rangers have bashed the ball around the yard, ranking 5th in runs-per-game, and have also played solid defensively.
Unfortunately for the Rangers they play in the same division, the American League West, as the top team in our rankings, the Houston Astros. As of today, the Rangers trail their Texas rivals by six games in the loss column. The Rangers are tied with the Cleveland Indians in the loss column in the race for the second AL Wildcard playoff berth.
The big bats in the Texas attack have been a trio of hitters who have rotated the left field and designated hitter positions: Joey GalloShin-Soo Choo, and a rejuvenated Hunter Pence. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is also enjoying a strong first half. Both Gallo and Pence, who is currently on the IL, were selected for the AL squad in the 2019 All-Star Game.
What has held Texas back is their pitching staff, which factored at just 23rd in the rankings category of OPS-against. One bright spot has been AlLAll-Star Mike Minor, a 31-year-old left-hander who could become a big trade chip should Texas fall out of the playoff race later this month.
Credit first-year manager Chris Woodward for keeping the team believing in themselves. Now, does GM Jon Daniels believe enough to go out and try to bolster that rotation for a genuine playoff run? Or will the Rangers actually become sellers as that July 31 trade deadline approaches?
(Previous spotlight teams: June 1 – Minnesota Twins , June 15 – Atlanta Braves)
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “2019 MLB Power Rankings: July 1

Manny Machado and Padres take on Bryce Harper and Phillies for first time

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Phillies will meet Manny Machado and the Padres in San Diego

The Philadelphia Phillies (33-26) pay their lone visit to Petco Park this week to take on the host San Diego Padres (30-29) in a three-game series.

The Padres currently reside in third place in the National League West Division standings, 10.5 games in back (10 in the loss column) of the rampaging Los Angeles Dodgers.
After leading the division for a full week in the middle of April, the Padres slumped into a six-game losing streak. They followed that up by winning five in a row. But after appearing to have regained their equilibrium, the club has gone 14-18 over the last six weeks and slowly fallen off the pace.
Entering this series, San Diego has dropped two straight, three of their last four, and five of their last seven games. The Phillies will enter having dropped a season-worst four games in a row, and are now clinging to a one-game lead in the NL East Division.
A huge problem for the Padres has been their inability to score. They are just 13th of the 15 NL teams in runs scored and OPS. However, their hitters are fourth in the league in home runs, so they do have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. This should be of particular concern to the Phillies, whose pitching staff has surrendered the most homers (92) in the National League.
Pitching has been their saving grace. The San Diego staff has combined to tie for the third-best batting average against figure (.240) in the entire NL and the seventh-best BAA mark and ninth-best ERA in all of Major League Baseball.
This series will end a pivotal 23-game stretch for the Phillies. Over the course of that three-and-a-half week endurance test they will have faced a tough gauntlet of opponents from outside their division, with 13 of the games coming on the road. The Phillies have gone 10-10 over the first 20 games, so a winning series would mean they came out ahead during what will arguably be the roughest part of their entire 2019 schedule.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Eric Hosmer: The 29-year-old first baseman has been by far the Padres most consistent offensive performer, slashing .291/.340/453 with nine homers. He leads the team with 34 RBIs and 31 runs scored.
Hunter Renfroe: A 27-year-old left fielder, Renfroe was the club’s first round pick at 13th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft. He leads the team with 17  home runs and 27 extra-base hits, and is second with 33 RBIs.
Franmil Reyes: Now in his second big-league season, the 23-year-old Reyes is the club’s right fielder. He is second with 16 homers and third on the club with 28 RBIs on the season.
Wil Myers: The 28-year-old Myers has seen action at three positions this year, but lately has taken over as the regular center fielder. His 10 home runs are third on the team, while he is tied for the club lead with six stolen bases.
Fernando Tatis Jr. A 20-year-old rookie phenom, the shortstop has been on the IL since suffering a hamstring strain in late April. He begins a rehab assignment today (Monday) and his return to the big-league lineup will be determined by how he feels and performs in the coming days. He is likely to miss this series.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Manny Machado: Phillies fans are well-acquainted with Machado following this most recent off-season. The Phillies pursued Machado aggressively, including hosting him for a day at Citizens Bank Park, when the 26-year-old superstar hit the free agent market. In the end, Machado chose San Diego, and the Phillies nailed down the other big prize of the off-season, outfielder Bryce Harper.
Machado’s deal with the Padres is for 10 years and $300 million. However, unlike Harper, who wanted a guaranteed no-trade in a 13-year deal in order to make a true home for the rest of his career, Machado’s deal has an opt out. He can opt out of the contract following the 2023 season, at which time he will be 31-years of age, and again enter the free agent market.
This season has been a disappointment. He is slashing just .251/.339/.412 with nine homers, 27 RBIs, 27 runs scored, and 16 extra-base hits. After playing almost the entire month of April as the club’s starting third baseman, the Padres shifted him to shortstop. He has played there exclusively since the end of April.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

  • Eric Lauer (LH-MON): 4-4, 4.45 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, 60 hits allowed over 58.2 IP across 11 starts with a 49/14 K:BB
  • Chris Paddack (RH-TUE): 4-3, 2.40 ERA, 0.817 WHIP, 34 hits allowed over 56.1 IP across 10 starts with a 62/12 K:BB
  • Joey Lucchesi (LH-WED): 4-3, 3.96 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 53 hits allowed over 61.1 IP across 11 starts with a 62/15 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

Josh Naylor: 21-year-old rookie 1B/OF was just recently called up for the first time and has appeared in eight games. He is hitting just .207 with one homer over his first 29 big-league plate appearances. The lefty hitter was originally the first round choice of the Miami Marlins at 12th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Manuel Margot: The 24-year-old has spent time as the starting center fielder, but a cold start has seen him lose playing time of late. He is slashing .231/.259/.313 with just seven extra-base hits and 13 runs scored while stealing six bags.
Kirby Yates: One of the top closers in the game today, the right-hander has allowed just 16 hits over 26 innings with 25 Saves. He sports a 1.04 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, and has a tremendous 45/8 K:BB ratio. Yates also has not surrendered a home run yet this season.
Craig Stammen: A top righty setup man who has allowed 27 hits over 30.2 innings across 28 appearances. The 35-year-old is a 10-year veteran former starter who has a 23/2 K:BB ratio.

THE SKIPPER

Andy Green is now in his fourth season at the helm in San Diego. He has a career 235-310 mark, and prior to this season the club had lost 91 or more games in each of the first three years under his guidance, finishing in last place in two of his three seasons.

THE BALLPARK

Petco Park is located in downtown San Diego, California. With a normal seating capacity of 40,209 the fans enjoy some of the most consistently nice outdoor weather conditions in all of baseball.
Petco is 334 feet down the line in left, 322 down the right field line, and 396 feet to dead center field. It is also known for having deep power alleys: 382 feet out to 391 in right-center, 357 out to 390 in left-center field. The park was actually intentionally designed to be an extreme pitcher’s park.
It opened on April 8. 2004 and hosted both the semi-finals and finals of the first World Baseball Classic back in 2006. On August 4, 2007, Barry Bonds bashed the 755th home run of his career at Petco, tying Hank Aaron‘s all-time career MLB record. The park also hosted the 2016 MLB All-Star Game.
The Western Metal Supply Company building, a hundred-year-old brick structure that had been scheduled for demolition to make way for Petco Park, was saved and incorporated into the ballpark design. It now contains the team store, private suites, a restaurant, and rooftop seating. The southeast corner of the building actually serves as the left field foul pole, and is protected by a strip of bright yellow angle iron.

SAN DIEGO SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Much as with their just-concluded series in Los Angeles, the Phillies will enjoy three days of stable, beautiful, perfect baseball weather in San Diego. High temps will be around 70 degrees each day, with game temps in the 60’s, light winds, and only a 10% chance of any type of showers.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies series opposition preview: San Diego Padres

Phillies fans are going to love fiery new slugger Bryce Harper

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Harper plays the game the way Philly fans like – emotionally

He is a power-hitting version of Pete Rose. A fiery competitor who is a genuine superstar in Major League Baseball. Now, just as Rose did exactly 40 years ago, Bryce Harper will transform from a feared and hated rival to a revered hero in Philadelphia.

After a months-long pursuit of the 26-year-old free agent, the Philadelphia Phillies have come to a 13-year agreement that gives Harper the largest contract in U.S. pro sports history and will add him to what was already a vastly improved ball club.
In conjunction with other moves that the club had previously made this off-season, the Phillies now have to be considered as favorites to win the National League East Division crown. This addition helps to transform the team immediately into a World Series favorite as well.
Harper is a Las Vegas, Nevada native who became one of the most hyped young baseball players in decades. He had been called “Baseball’s Lebron“, referring to basketball superstar Lebron James, when Harper appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old high schooler a decade ago.
Drafted by the Washington Nationals out of a Nevada junior college with the first overall pick of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, Harper was selected two spots ahead of the other big name free agent whom the Phillies also pursued this off-season, Manny Machado.
In his lone full minor league campaign back in 2011, Harper blitzed through two levels with a .297/.392/.501 slash line. He banged out 17 homers and stole 26 bases in 109 games that summer, reaching Double-A as an 18-year-old.
After a brief stint to begin the 2012 season at Triple-A Syracuse, Harper received the call to Washington at the end of April. Other than a couple of injury rehab stints early in his career, he has never returned to the minor leagues.

In that 2012 season with the Nationals at just age 19, Harper slashed .270/.340/.477 with 22 homers, 57 extra-base hits, 59 RBI, and 98 runs scored. He was named to the National League All-Star team that summer, and when the season was over he received the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Finishing 80-81 the year before, a distant 21 games behind the Phillies, Harper helped spark the Nationals to a franchise-record 98-win season as a rookie. Washington snapped the Phillies five-year string of NL East titles and took over as the division’s perennial power team.
In his seven seasons there, Washington would capture four NL East crowns and finish second in each of the other three years. Unfortunately, playoff heartbreak became a regular occurrence for those Nationals teams. The club lost in the NLDS all four times that they reached the postseason, with three of those series going the distance.
Harper has produced a career .279/.388/.512 slash line. The left-handed slugger has belted 184 home runs and 183 doubles. Harper has also stolen 75 bases over his career and produced 521 RBI with 610 runs scored. Over the course of his career, Harper has accumulated a 27.4 total WAR value.
Despite the fact that his 2013-14 and 2017 seasons were cut short by injury, Harper has been a six-time NL All-Star. His best year came back in 2015 when at age 22, Harper won the National League Most Valuable Player award and his lone career Silver Slugger award.
Fans may recall an infamous run-in between Harper and closer Jonathan Papelbon in September of 2015 in a game against the Phillies. Papelbon had been dealt away by the Phillies to the Nationals in July of that season in exchange for Nick Pivetta.
In that incident, Harper had popped out to left field. On his return to the dugout, Papelbon immediately came after him and the two exchanged words over what the reliever felt was a failure of Harper to run out the play. Papelbon then charged Harper, grabbing him by the throat and shoving him against the dugout wall before the two were separated.
Phillies fans are very well aware of Papelbon’s asinine personality from his 2012-15 years here. While it is certainly hard to hold it against Harper for getting under the skin of the abrasive Papelbon, there have been a number of times over his first handful of seasons that Harper has lost his cool. He became known for tossing his helmet and bats and was ejected from games a number of times.

However, with experience and maturity in both his career and in life, Harper has mostly turned that reputation around. He was tossed just once last season. Jamal Collier at MLB.com quoted him last September 15, just a week prior to that lone 2018 ejection:
That’s my biggest thing this year, I don’t wanna get tossed. I think I go to the edge and kind of quiet up. Because there’s no reason to. At the end of the day, if I’m 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, it’s just part of the game. I’d rather be 0-for-4 or 4-for-4 and not get thrown out of the game, where I’m only 0-for-2 and we lose the game in the eighth or the ninth.”
In December 2016, Harper married his longtime lady, the former Kayla Varner. The two are both practicing Mormons, and the new bride gave this personal insight to Esther Lee at The Knot:
He’s this big, professional baseball player and you would never know it off the field because he treats everyone with respect and is genuine. He’s selfless, the most selfless guy ever… I think that’s what always attracted me to him. And he’s goofy and funny—he loves to play pranks on me, and as much as I get annoyed by it, I secretly love it—he’s just the best. I love him.”
This is the Harper that fans should be seeing as he moves through what should be the prime years of his career in a Phillies uniform. A player who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and who will occasionally lose control of those. But also, one who is multi-talented, plays the game hard, and who is a fun and genuine person.
Playing his home games at Citizens Bank Park could elevate Harper’s power numbers to another level. Phillies fans have not seen this type of consistent game power in the lineup since Ryan Howard‘s heyday nearly a decade ago.
Asked by Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic as to how he would handle the addition of a Harper, Kapler stated the following:
I would handle it the way I would handle any other major challenge, by throwing all of my energy and effort into supporting a superstar player and raising the bar for them simultaneously. Those are two things we can do around here very well — support players and raise the bar for them. I don’t think you can do one without the other. I don’t think you can ask or challenge a player to do things differently if you don’t first come with a high degree of support and care.
With veterans such as Andrew McCutchenJ.T. Realmuto, and Jake Arrieta in the dugout, and with a homegrown leader in Rhys Hoskins, the skipper shouldn’t have anything to worry about as all of the new personalities and talent begin to mesh into a cohesive unit.
This announcement should also serve as a lesson to the many Phillies and general baseball fans who bought into every rumor that popped up for weeks that Harper didn’t want to come here or was leaning in some other direction. That lesson? Don’t jump at every Twitter or internet rumor being pushed by some source just because they have a blue check-mark next to their name.

This likely puts a capper on what has clearly been the single greatest off-season in Philadelphia Phillies history. Kudos especially to general manager Matt Klentak for getting the work done, and to principal owner John Middleton for his leadership – and his money. I think that I can speak for most of the fan base when I say, let’s wrap this story now so that I can go to the website and order some Phillies tickets.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “From rival to revered: Philly fans will love fiery superstar Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper appears to be taking final offers as free agency process nears an end

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Harper met with the Phillies, Dodgers and Giants in recent days

For months, the Philadelphia Phillies were among the leading contenders to land one of the two big free agents available during this Hot Stove season.

With infielder Manny Machado coming off the market last week, the focus of the team was squarely on the other prize. Now it appears that the battle for outfielder Bryce Harper may be finally drawing to a close.
The Phillies may have put their final best offer on the table this past weekend when principal owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas and met on Saturday with Harper, his wife Kayla, and agent Scott Boras. Middleton then returned to Florida and has said that he will make no further public comments until the process is complete.
On Sunday it was the Los Angeles Dodgers turn to meet with the Harper group in Sin City. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was part of that Dodgers contingent and had this to say per Bob Nightengale of USA Today: “It was good, just trying to get to know each other. I think in the spirit of us, the Dodgers, vetting a certain process makes sense and for those guys to do their due diligence as well.
Then on Tuesday the San Francisco Giants took their shot, with CEO Larry Baer and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi known to have taken part in meetings with the Harper team. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that their sources indicate “the Giants and Harper’s team have discussed a 10-year contract.
If the most recent reports are to be believed, this would mean that both the Phillies and Giants have made long-term offers in excess of $300 million total dollars. It is believed that the Dodgers are hoping to lure Harper to SoCal with a more lucrative annual average value deal for a shorter term, perhaps three-to-five years for $35-40 million AAV.
There has also been increased speculation that a Harper deal for the long-term would have to include a player opt-out after three years. That would be smart from his perspective for a number of reasons.
First, it would allow him to re-enter free agency while still in his prime at age 29. Second, it would come a year after the free agency of Mike Trout, which will certainly elevate financial and other terms for all players. Third, it would come just as a new Basic Agreement was due between the players and Major League Baseball.

Everything is speculative at this point. Numerous sources are coming out with proclamations and predictions on a daily basis, stating that their individual sources have some new inside information to offer. Frequently these sources have differed wildly or outright contradicted others.
One thing feels certain. With spring training underway, game action already taking place in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, and the calendar about to turn to March, this process is drawing to a close. These meetings for the Phillies, Dodgers, and Giants were very likely a chance to put up their last, best offers.
I am predicting that we have an end to this saga before the weekend. Let’s see what happens, Phillies Nation.

It’s time for the Phillies to finish off the Bryce Harper negotiations

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Middleton (L) hasn’t had a slugger like Howard in years

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.”
This was the statement made by Philadelphia Phillies principal owner John Middleton at the Major League Baseball owner’s meetings back in mid-November. His statement lit a spark that blazed up Hot Stove logs in the fireplace of Phillies fans everywhere.
We believed all along that Middleton was the ultimate answer to the Phillies returning to the consistent glory that so many in that fan base had come to expect. Remember, this was the man who, after the club had dropped the 2009 World Series in six games to the New York Yankees, made the following statement to Ryan Howard“Ryan, I want my fucking trophy back. It’s fucking ours!” 
From 2001 through 2012, a period of a dozen seasons, the Phillies were playoff contenders nearly every year. But then the bottom dropped out, and for five years the team and those fans wandered through the darkness of a bleak losing wilderness.
For the first decade after Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004 those fans swarmed to the beautiful South Philly ballpark. More than three million tickets were sold in eight of those 10 seasons, including a half-dozen in a row. The ballpark was the place to be, a social happening every single game.
But as the losing began and club management and ownership seemed to give up on putting out a winning product, fan interest waned. The Phillies didn’t even draw two million for three straight years from 2014-17.
Things appeared to be turning around last season. The club was a surprising contender for much of the summer, leading the division for more than a month from July 6 through August 12. Fans responded to the winning and some strong promotional events by filling more than 30,000 seats for 18 games between late-June and mid-August.
But as the team collapsed to a 12-28 record over the final six weeks, fan interest dried up. The Phillies drew that 30,000 figure just five more times. All of those were on weekends, with three specifically for Sunday promotions.
The message from last year when viewed against the previous handful of seasons is clear to Middleton. Do your job and put a winning team on the field and fans will respond. The message from a decade ago is also clear. Put players on that winner who those fans can relate to and who excite them, and they will come out in droves.
General manager Matt Klentak has performed well thus far. In what has been by far his best off-season to date the GM has signed free agents Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and swung trades to bring in Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto.
Middleton does understand. He is one of us in this regard: he is also a fan. He is driven. He wants to win. That is why he fueled up his private jet with the red Phillies “P” branded on the tail and had the pilots fly him out to Las Vegas, hometown of the biggest fish in this off-season’s large free agent lake, Bryce Harper.
But it isn’t enough. Look around at the other National League contenders. The Phillies are improved, but so are any number of other teams that already appeared to be ahead of them. The fans realize that this team has a chance to contend for a Wildcard spot now. But that is not what spending “stupid” money is supposed to get you.
The players added thus far by Klentak are respected by most of the fan base. But to really fill up the ballpark again it is going to require star power. Even with the additions and maturation of players like Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, it is lacking marquee star power. There is no Mike Schmidt or Jim Thome.
After the other big free agent whom the Phillies took a run at this off-season, Manny Machado, signed with the San Diego Padres, Klentak stated “If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.” This is not one of those times. In fact, sometimes you have to be willing to go beyond mere numerical valuations.
That is where Middleton comes in at this point. Harper is the big fish, the top prize. He would bring the tremendous raw power to the lineup that has largely been missing since Howard’s 2006-09 peak years. He would bring star power not seen around these parts since ‘The Big Piece’ and his teammates began to age-out and break up earlier this decade.
After meeting with Harper, his wife Kayla, and agent Scott Boras this weekend, Middleton flew home on Saturday night due to a prior engagement. While he was gone, representative of the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly slipped into Vegas on Sunday and tried to take one last shot at luring Harper with a short-term deal.

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Would Bryce Harper be interested in a short-term, high AAV deal with the ?@Ken_Rosenthal discusses the Dodgers reported interest in Harper on .

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I have never met the man, but I believe that I know John Middleton. He is not going to let this get away from him. At least not over money and desire. I fully expect the Phillies owner to be back on his plane and heading back out to Vegas to close this thing out. It may be happening as you read this, in fact.

It is time, and he knows it. When a big game is on the line at the end, you send in your strong-armed closer. When an important business deal is getting down to the brass tacks of final negotiations, you send in the big guns to close. John Middleton is the closer, the big gun. It is time to close out Bryce Harper.