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Bryce Harper's status before Spring Training

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Bryce Harper's status before Spring Training

In the last podcast before taking off for Palm Beach, Todd hosts Racing Presidents and brings in Jim Salisbury, longtime Phillies reporter currently with NBC Sports Philadelphia, both looking southward to spring training.

Alongside everyone else, Dybas and Salisbury remain shocked at how long Harper and Machado’s free agency has lasted. They draw comparisons between this year’s free agency period to last years.

In both instances, there remain a tier of players under the top two free agents waiting for dominoes to fall and trigger leftover signings. 

Last year, it was J.D. Martinez and Jake Arrieta. This year, it is Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

The Nationals finished two games ahead of Philadelphia last season. They Nats also swept the Phillies in D.C. in September. However, a lot has changed since then.

Phillies have added J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen, and are still in the market for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

Does this make the NL East the most competitive division in the league this season? Listen below to find out.

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MLB officially institutes 3-batter minimum for 2020 season

MLB officially institutes 3-batter minimum for 2020 season

SAN DIEGO -- Major League Baseball is pushing ahead with a rules change for 2020 that requires pitchers to face at least three batters or finish a half-inning.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred also said Wednesday the injured list for pitchers will revert to 15 days from 10 days. In tandem, pitchers optioned to the minors will have to spend 15 days with farm teams before they can be recalled unless they replace a pitcher going on the IL.

As part of a March 8 agreement with the players' association, management had the right to make the changes for 2020.

"I've been kind of contemplating things in my head, what we want to do and what we want to see and the kind of pitchers we want in our bullpen," said Dave Martinez, manager of the World Series champion Washington Nationals said.

All pitchers must face at least three batters or end a half-inning, unless injured. While the union refused to agree to that provision, it also said it will not challenge it.

"It's already come up in a lot of conversations. It's definitely on my brain," new Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said. "You will see definitely see a change."

New Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi said the use of one-batter situational left-handers had decreased in recent seasons.

"I think the game has kind of went to multiple-inning pitchers anyway, in a sense guys that can give you more than three outs," he said. "Depending how many left-handers they have, maybe you spread your left-handers out. So if they have a guy that is efficient in getting left-handed-hitters out, you surround him with two beasts that are right-handed hitters."

Active rosters will increase by one to 26 from opening day through Aug. 31 and will drop from 40 to 28 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season. What had been a 26th player for certain day-night doubleheaders through Aug. 31 will become a 27th player in those situations.

Teams may carry no more than 13 pitchers through Aug. 31 and no more than 14 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season.

Baseball's regular injured list will remain at 10 days for position players along with a 10-day option recall minimum. There still will be a seven-day concussion IL and a 60-day IL for longer-term injuries.

Position players will be prohibited from pitching through the ninth inning unless the player's team is winning or losing by six or more runs when he takes the mound. Two-way players are exempt if they have pitched 20 innings and made 20 starts with at least three plate appearances in the current or previous year.

MLB is still working with team local television networks to determine whether half-inning breaks for games not on national TV can be cut to 1 minute, 55 seconds.

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MLB has interviewed 60 witnesses, reviewed 76,000 emails in Astros probe

MLB has interviewed 60 witnesses, reviewed 76,000 emails in Astros probe

SAN DIEGO -- Major League Baseball has interviewed almost 60 people and obtained tens of thousands of electronic messages in its investigation into allegations the Houston Astros broke rules by using a television camera to steal signs.

Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers sparked the investigation when he told The Athletic last month the Astros had used the camera to steal signs in 2017 during the team's run to its first World Series title.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month MLB was investigating Houston's conduct for the past three seasons, and he hoped to complete the inquiry before the start of next season.

"I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the commissioner's office has ever undertaken," he said Wednesday at the winter meetings. "I think we've interviewed already nearly 60 witnesses, 76,000 e-mails, a whole additional trove of instant messages.

"That review has caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing. It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it's really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take."

Astros manager AJ Hinch and Boston manager Alex Cora, the Astros' 2017 bench coach, said they had spoken with MLB investigators, and Hinch said he had been involved in several sessions. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, a Houston player in 2017, refused to say whether he had been interviewed.

"At this point in the investigation it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate about what types of discipline might be in play," Manfred said. "I'm going to get all the facts in front of me and make a decision as promptly as possible on discipline."

MLB strengthened its rules against electronic sign stealing before the 2019 season, and Manfred said the rules are reviewed each offseason to determine whether more alterations are warranted.

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