With actual spring training games underway, Manny Machado is finally off the board, but Bryce Harper remains unsigned. 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 heading into the weekend, 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 ...
Phillies owner meeting with Harper
Now that Manny Machado has officially joined the San Diego Padres, most of the free agent buzz has shifted to Bryce Harper. On Friday night, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that Phillies owner John Middleton's plane is on the ground in Las Vegas, Harper's hometown. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki and The Athletic's Matt Gelb both confirmed the report.
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
Fancred's Jon Heyman chimed in on the news as well, noting that while the Phillies may look like the favorite, there are still other teams involved.
Phillies owner John Middleton appears to be flying solo (or at least he’s at the Bryce Vegas meeting w/o MacPhail/Klentak). Phils have long felt like favorite, thanks to great park (esp for lefty sluggers), improving team and of course “stupid $.” JM obvs hoping to close deal.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
While Philly appears to be in strong position, word is there is no deal yet with Bryce, and no expectation he will be returning east with Phillies owner John Middleton. “Just a meeting,” is the official word. SF, SD, Wash, maybe 1 more still in the game to varying degrees.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that a deal probably won't happen before the weekend, and that Middleton's trip to Vegas is "for more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal."
Barring something completely unexpected, Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies will not be consummating a deal tonight, league sources tell ESPN. Owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas for more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal, sources said.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 23, 2019
The Phillies contingent consisting of Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler
Are the Padres still in on Bryce?
The Padres on Friday formally introduced Manny Machado, whom they inked to a $300 million contract. We're conditioned to think of the Pads as not being big spenders, but that's changing as GM A.J. Preller tries to complement the club's impressive prospects with established contributors. And speaking of Preller and his budget ...
A.J. Preller was asked if the Padres might still be in on Bryce Harper. He said a lot of words. None of them remotely denied it.— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) February 22, 2019
Look, A.J., you may be able to get away with non-denial denials at other times of the year, but not right now. More on this matter:
At the moment, the Phillies still appear to be the front-runners for Bryce Harper, but the Giants and, yes, Padres are still in the mix to varying degrees. The Padres boast a bright future and geographic appeal, and after signing Machado their commitment to winning looks obvious. Harper is bound to have noticed.
Right now the Padres are at roughly $114 million in payroll for the 2019 season. That means they can sign Harper while remaining far, far under the $206 million luxury-tax threshold. And, yes, they have the resources to land Harper. The question, as it is with all teams, is willingness. Speaking of which ...
Nats say they're out on Harper
For a long time, it's seemed like the Nationals were at least still on the fringes of the Bryce Harper talks. The ties are there, obviously, as they drafted and developed Harper and then saw him lead four division-champion squads. They even offered Harper a $300 million contract during the season, albeit one that was heavily back-loaded. So where do things stand now? To hear ownership tell it, the Nationals are moving on under the assumption that Harper is going to wind up elsewhere. .
Reds after Iglesias
The Reds have had a highly active offseason as they look to improve in 2019 and re-engage the fan base. Now they may be looking to add infield depth in the person of veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias. Details ...
#Reds have been in discussions with free-agent SS Jose Iglesias on a minor-league contract, sources tell me and @ctrent. Would be reserve IFer, giving team a true backup SS and bench of Schebler/Kemp/Dietrich/Iglesias/Casali (assuming Senzel is in center and Winker in left).— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 22, 2019
Iglesias, 29, has posted anof 84 across parts of seven big-league seasons, and he's also a plus-defender at shortstop. Iglesias can steal a base on occasion. As a depth piece, he's a good one.
Machado to play third for Padres
The Padres on Friday held a press conference to introduce Manny Machado, whom they recently signed to a 10-year, $300 million contract. The big reveal is that Machado will immediately become the team's third baseman so to keep the path clear for top prospect and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. .
Twins land Marwin
The Twins on Friday reportedly agreed to terms with super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez on a two-year contract with $21 million. .
White Sox ink Santana
According to multiple reports, the White Sox have agreed to terms with veteran right-hander Ervin Santana on a minor-league contract for 2019. ESPN's Jeff Passan tweets that Santana will make $4.3 million if he cracks the active roster.
As you see above, Santana was injured and ineffective last season, but as recently as 2017 he was an All-Star and finished in the top 10 in the AL Cy Young balloting. Santana figures to have a reasonably clear path to a rotation spot with Chicago, especially with Michael Kopech likely missing all of 2019 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.