MLB rumors: Phillies owner John Middleton in Las Vegas to meet with Bryce Harper

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.

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.

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."

The Phillies contingent consisting of Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler met with Harper, his agent Scott Boras and his wife Kayla on Jan. 12.

Are the Padres still in on Bryce?

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Bryce Harper PHI • LF • 3
BA.249
R103
HR34
RBI100
SB13

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 ... 

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. You can read more here

Reds after Iglesias

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Jose Iglesias CIN • SS • 4
BA.269
R43
HR5
RBI48
SB15

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 ... 

Iglesias, 29, has posted an OPS+ of 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

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Manny Machado SD • 3B • 13
BA.297
R84
HR37
RBI107
SB14

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. You can read more here on Machado's first official day as a Padre

Twins land Marwin

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Marwin Gonzalez MIN • SS • 9
BA.247
R61
HR16
RBI68
SB2

The Twins on Friday reportedly agreed to terms with super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez on a two-year contract with $21 million. You can read more here

White Sox ink Santana

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Ervin Santana CHW • SP •
ERA8.03
WHIP1.62
IP24.2
BB9
K16

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. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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