Considering he was on the mound when Howie Kendrick hit the home run that eventually was the difference in the 2019 World Series, Will Harris’s decision to sign with Washington after the Nationals beat his Houston Astros this past October might seem like an odd one, something that the 35-year-old reliever acknowledged in an interview on the MLB Network’s Hot Stove show on Monday afternoon.
“I think from the very beginning they seemed to be the most bullish on me,” Harris said in explaining his decision to sign a 3-year/$24M contract with the Nationals last week.
“They were on my shortlist of teams that I wanted to go to when I had a conversation with my agent the week or so after the World Series. Obviously I knew it may be a little weird at first, but as I was removed from last World Series, I kind of was like, ‘You know I think that would be a great place for me and my family.’ Their interest stayed throughout the whole process, and once a few other teams got involved, you could pretty much tell the Nationals had made me a priority and that was it, I was glad to get a deal done with them.”
When he was deciding where he was going to play for the next three years, Harris said, he didn’t want to let the emotions of how the 2019 campaign came to an end affect where he decided to play in 2020 and beyond.
New @Nationals reliever @willharris15 knows the Howie Kendrick-homer questions are coming... #MLBNHotStove pic.twitter.com/6NPKlyjNHc— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 7, 2020
“I wanted to play somewhere that was right for me and right for my family, and I did my homework on Washington,” Harris said. “Everybody I talked to said it’s an amazing place to play, it’s an amazing clubhouse, and I didn’t want to miss out on that because maybe I wasn’t mentally tough enough for it, so I’m glad that it worked out the way it worked out.”
In a conference call with reporters last week, Harris said he was also excited to get a chance to work with the Nationals’ catchers, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, both of whom will be back in D.C. in 2020 after sharing duties behind the plate last season.
“They’ve both been in the big leagues for a very long time,” Harris said, “... so I’ve seen a lot of innings caught by those two and I’m looking forward to it, because I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from them. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of the catchers I’ve been able to work with, and especially veteran guys like them, so I’m just looking forward to picking their brains and getting some feedback from them, especially in a league that I haven’t been in for a really long time and I don’t necessarily know the hitters that well.
“It’s going to be fun for me to learn and to get some different perspectives on things from two guys who have been doing it for a long time.”
Harris’s new teammates will be getting to know the veteran reliever as well, and it appears they’re getting a good pitcher and person:
I’ve always had a ton of respect for Will Harris after competing against him in the AL West for many years. He’s an elite reliever and I loved the way he attacks hitters. It’s awesome to know we are also getting an elite human being. Can’t wait to share the pen with this guy! https://t.co/bgPjYLodCv— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) January 7, 2020