Cactus and Grapefruit League play is underway, Manny Machado is off the board, but Bryce Harper remains unsigned at this very late hour. That means we've got a healthy supply of buzz even as we head toward March. To give you an idea of what's out there on Wednesday, we're here to round up all the notable trade and free agency rumors. As always, our Free Agent Tracker is a great way to catch up on what's already happened on that front. Now let's jump in ...
Giants meet with Harper again; Philly's chances fading?
With a nod toward whatever mystery team or teams that might be out there, the derby to sign free agent Bryce Harper appears to be down to three teams -- the Phillies, Giants, and Dodgers. Per most scuttle, the Phillies are willing go the longest, while the Giants and Dodgers are talking mid- and short-term deals, respectively. Now, however, the offers may be getting similar ...
All teams talking to Bryce Harper in these late stages, including the #SFGIants, have discussed deals of at least 10 years, I've learned.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) February 27, 2019
As for the Giants, they met with Harper not long ago, and now they've reportedly gotten together for a second time ...
Sources: The #SFGiants sent Larry Baer and Farhan Zaidi to meet with Bryce Harper and Scott Boras in Las Vegas Tuesday. This is the second known meeting between the two sides.https://t.co/EQ5KWeywNk— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) February 27, 2019
This second meeting quite obviously implies that discussions are getting more serious. Harper, the Vegas native, has hinted before that he'd like to play on the West Coast, and the Giants of course satisfy that geographic criterion. From the team standpoint, signing Harper, who at age 26 figures to be an impact player for years to come, makes sense for the Giants even if they're not likely to contend in 2019. So is San Fran the current frontrunner? Seems like a reasonable assumption.
As for the Phillies, even though they've had an active offseason to date, they've got a lot of "political capital" invested in their efforts to add Harper. That's especially the case after missing out on Machado. On that front ...
A source indicates that the #Phillies believe their chances of landing Bryce Harper are remote. The obvious question is whether they would pivot to Keuchel and/or Kimbrel. My sense from our interview with Matt Klentak is that they won’t play on Keuchel and only maybe on Kimbrel.— Steve Phillips (@StevePhillipsGM) February 27, 2019
If you're a Phillies rooter, then "remote" isn't a word you want to hear insofar as Harper is concerned. Also note that Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel may not be on the radar as Harper fallback plans.
Bear in mind, though, that these things can change in a hurry, given how fluid the market is. That's something for Giants and Phillies fans to remember right about now.
Gregorius not likely to return by June
Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and for a long time it's been assumed that he'd be back in action by June. Now that time-table needs to be adjusted ...
#Yankees VP/GM Brian Cashman on @SiriusXMFantasy SS Didi Gregorius June return is “Optimistic” More realistic is July or August. Also revealed Torres will get reps at shortstop this Spring.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 27, 2019
Gregorius has a good glove at short and plenty of power, so he'll be missed. The good news for the Yankees is that they have some infield depth. As noted above, Gleyber Torres could see some time at short, and veteran Troy Tulowitzki is also in the fold. Elsewhere, Miguel Andujar and DJ LeMahieu will also be looking for playing time. Barring injury, the Yankees should be fine until Gregorius returns, at which point they may be facing a bit of an infield bottleneck.
Cardinals ink Wieters
The Cardinals have agreed to terms with veteran catcher Matt Wieters on a minor-league contract for 2019 that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training. Wieters isn't much of a defender, but the 32-year-old is potentially capable of putting up solid power numbers by positional standards. Yadier Molina is of course the stalwart catcher in St. Louis, and Wieters will likely compete with Francisco Pena for backup duties.