According to a report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tonight, Washington’s Nationals have signed veteran right-handed reliever Will Harris to a multi-year deal. Yes, it’s that Will Harris, the now-former Houston Astro, who was on the mound in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the World Series when Howie Kendrick hit a two-run home run that put the Nationals up for good.
Before the 35-year-old gave up big homers in back-to-back games in Games 6 and 7 of the Fall Classic, the eight-year vet had tossed nine scoreless postseason innings for the Astros, at the end of the a 2019 regular season which saw the reliever put up a 1.50 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, 14 walks (2.10 BB/9), 62 Ks (9.30 K/9), and a .196/.246/.294 line against in 60 IP, with a solid .207/.226/.264 line against vs left-handed hitters, and a .183/.269/.333 line against vs right-handed hitters on the year.
Free-agent reliever Will Harris is in agreement with the #Nationals on a multi-year deal, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 3, 2020
MLBTraderumors.com’s free agent predictions for this offseason had the one-time Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Astros’ reliever getting a 2-year/$18M deal this winter, but according to reports tonight, the Nationals have signed him to a 3-year/$24M deal that gives them a back-end-of-the-bullpen arm who can handle the late innings and close games when/if Sean Doolittle is unavailable.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked during the Winter Meetings about adding a high-end arm to the mix to help get games to Doolittle.
The #Nationals, who last saw reliever Will Harris in the World Series, have just signed him to a three-year, $24 million contract.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 3, 2020
“Obviously we have Doolittle,” Martinez explained when asked what roles were already set in the bullpen for 2020 last month. “I like what [Tanner Rainey] did towards the end of the year. He grew a lot and matured a lot. You have [Wander] Suero, who I think did a great job. His ERA doesn’t say that, but he pitched a lot of innings for us, pitched some big innings for us. We’ve got [Hunter] Strickland, [Roenis] Elías back. What I would like is hopefully we can find a few ‘back end of the bullpen’ guys to complement Doolittle.”
They have one “back end of the bullpen” guy to complement Doolittle now, with multiple reports tonight suggesting that this deal with Harris all but ends the talk of bringing back reliever Daniel Hudson, who was on the mound when the Nationals recorded the final out this past October, and was reportedly in discussions about returning to D.C., after he was acquired at the Trade Deadline this past July.
Is GM Mike Rizzo done adding high-end arms to the back of the bullpen? Rizzo said last month that addressing the relief corps was at the top of the list of the offseason needs.
“I think that it’s part of our offseason plan. That’s one of the holes that we have to fill, and we’re certainly going to be aggressive to address the needs that we have,” he explained.
Does the addition of Harris (reportedly pending a physical), give the Nationals what they need going forward?
The biggest surprise here (to me) is that the Nationals are giving a 3-year deal to a reliever who turns 36 in August. They've rarely been willing to give relievers that kind of security.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) January 3, 2020
Some context while I work to get the terms here: The Nationals had been in discussions with Daniel Hudson, but recently indicated that another RP was pressuring them to act. Turns out that reliever is Will Harris, who gave up the World Series-winning HR to Howie Kendrick.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) January 3, 2020