San Diego Padres fans aren’t the only ones happy to know Manny Machado will be wearing a Padres uniform for the foreseeable future.
Machado signing a massive 10-year contract with the Padres was met with joy in southern California. American League pitchers that faced Machado on a regular basis were likely pleased as well that he will now be moving to the National League. Included in that group is Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 23, 2019
One look at Machado’s career numbers versus Bauer and it’s easy to understand why Bauer would be ecstatic to face Machado fewer times. In 18 plate appearances, Machado is hitting .643/.722/1.643 with nine hits, two doubles, four home runs, and four walks against Bauer. I’d be happy if someone who had the much success against me was switching leagues too.
The Bryce Harper-to-the-Phillies talk is in full effect thanks to the latest rumor.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reported on Friday night that Phillies owner John Middleton’s private plan was in Las Vegas and that talks were “clearly ongoing” between the club and former NL MVP.
A source in Las Vegas tells me that Phillies owner John Middleton’s plane is on the ground in that city. Vegas is Bryce Harper’s home town. No other details, but talks clearly ongoing.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 23, 2019
Phillies reporter Matt Gelb confirmed the report.
Can confirm @JSalisburyNBCS’s report that John Middleton’s private jet is in Las Vegas, home to Bryce Harper. It’s unclear who from the Phillies organization was on the plane.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) February 23, 2019
Time is running out on the offseason and free agents who have dragged out their decisions are starting to accept offers. Manny Machado signed with the Padres, Marwin Gonzalez signed with Minnesota, and Harper is still left.
Reports have said the Padres, White Sox and Nationals are all out on Harper, which leaves the Phillies as the last team standing. What’s one issue that could be standing in the way? A recent report said Harper is not a fan of Philadelphia.
The Phillies would be the perfect home for Harper. His passion for baseball is matched by the passion of their fans. They need a slugger. And he would crush the ball at Citizens Bank Park, which is hitter-friendly.
- Bryce Harper
More details are coming out on MLB’s plans for a pitch clock during spring training.
On Friday, MLB announced a 20-second pitch clock that will start when the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher. Batters will be expected in the box with five seconds left on the clock, and a pitcher must begin his delivery before the clock expires to escape potential ball-or-strike penalties.
MLB officially announces the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock during spring games. Here’s the full release with details: pic.twitter.com/E0478l9pn8
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 22, 2019
Commissioner Rob Manfred has said previously that he would like to eventually implement a similar pitch clock for regular season games, potentially as soon as this season. Expect its use in spring training to be something of a trial run.
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Clayton Kershaw has had some nagging injuries in recent seasons, so you can understand why Los Angeles Dodgers fans were alarmed to hear that he is being shut down indefinitely after a bullpen session this week that did not go well. However, the left-hander insists it is not time to panic.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Friday that Kershaw “just didn’t feel right” after his Wednesday bullpen session. That immediately made people think of his balky back, but Roberts says the discomfort is not related to that.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw told him after bullpen session Wednesday that "he just didn't feel right." Given Thursday off, just doing work in weight room today. Won't throw for "a couple days."
"Not his back," Roberts said. "We're not alarmed."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 22, 2019
Kershaw later spoke with the media, and he did not confirm nor deny that his back is bothering him. He instead downplayed whatever it is that is bothering him.
Asked specifically if it was back-related. Kershaw: "I'm just taking a few days. I'm not going to be super-specific right now. But I should be playing catch in the next few days and kind of go from there. This is super early. I just want to make sure things are right." #Dodgers
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 22, 2019
Kershaw has not thrown more than 200 innings in a season since 2016, and his velocity was way down over last year. Despite that, he still finished with a 2.73 ERA last season in 26 starts, and the Dodgers felt confident enough in his health to sign him to a three-year, $93 million extension back in November. There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe in February, but any issue Kershaw experiences is always going to lead to injury questions.
- Clayton Kershaw
Despite repeated rumors indicating that the San Diego Padres may also look into signing Bryce Harper as well, there isn’t any real indication that it’s happening.
According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Harper to the Padres is simply “not happening,” with the Padres looking to spend the remaining money they intend to spend on other areas.
It’s not happening — unless Bryce Harper wants to take a 90% discount on his salary and/or donate a significant portion of it to investing in an immediate upgrade to the starting pitching.
I have reluctantly checked back with multiple people on this, and it is not a possibility. https://t.co/y5FVekcfHN
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) February 22, 2019
Between this and the fact that Harper’s old team has publicly ruled itself out of the running, it’s increasingly looking like Philadelphia or bust for the top remaining free agent. That’s not exactly great news for agent Scott Boras, who was likely hoping for a competitive bidding war.
The Minnesota Twins have agreed to a deal with free agent outfielder Marwin Gonzalez.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that Gonzalez’s contract will be worth $21 million over two years.
Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez is in agreement with the Minnesota Twins on a two-year, $21 million deal, league sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 22, 2019
Gonzalez, 29, is a career .264 hitter who spent his first seven MLB seasons with the Houston Astros. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .247 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. His best season was two years ago, when he batted .303 with 23 homers and 90 RBI.
While Gonzalez’s 2017 season looks like a bit of an anomaly, there’s a reason we had him listed among our best bargain free agents at one point. He’s a reliable player with good pop, and he should be a valuable piece in Minnesota’s lineup at a reasonable price.
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Bryce Harper and his agent Scott Boras may be waiting to see if the Washington Nationals are going to up their offer for the star outfielder before he signs a deal with another team, but that is apparently not going to happen.
As reports continue to swirl that the Philadelphia Phillies are the favorites to land Harper, Nationals owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas on Friday that his team has turned the page from Harper.
“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end,” Lerner said. “We’ve moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best.”
For what it’s worth, Lerner seems more frustrated with the negotiations than anything. He admitted that the “door is cracked a little bit” and not completely shut, but he said the Nationals have not heard from Harper or Boras in months.
The Nationals reportedly offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million deal at the end of last season, but a large portion of the contract was deferred and not guaranteed. With Manny Machado having signed a fully guaranteed $300 million deal, not a penny less is going to cut it for Harper.
A report from earlier in the week claimed Washington has no intention of offering Harper a deal like the one Machado got from the San Diego Padres, so the Nationals are out if that is true. However, Phillies fans won’t like hearing the latest about Harper’s interest in joining their team.