The Nationals and Bryce Harper began working toward the one-year, $21.625MM extension the right fielder signed Saturday over the winter, general manager Mike Rizzo told Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (all Twitter links). The deal could end up as a slight discount for the Nationals, who believe Harper would have pushed for $25MM in arbitration next offseason if he were to win his second National League MVP this year, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
Looking ahead, Rizzo revealed that there haven’t been any discussions about Harper’s status beyond next season, when he’s scheduled to become a free agent. In the meantime, by settling Harper’s salary for next year, the Nationals ensured that he’ll be “comfortable” and won’t have to worry about it this season, Rizzo added. Harper agrees, saying: “It’s huge. We’re able to go into the offseason and worry about other things.” The 24-year-old also noted that anything past the 2018 campaign is “still a long way away.”
More from the NL:
- Both left-hander Steven Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo threw 30 pitches in an extended spring training game Saturday and could return to the Mets by late May or early June, manager Terry Collins indicated (via MetsBlog). Matz has dealt with an elbow issue that has prevented him from pitching this season, while a partially torn UCL has sidelined Lugo. The two were quality starters last year for the Mets, whose rotation has declined significantly this season for both injury- and performance-related reasons.
- Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta took a 93 mph fastball to the face from the Pirates’ Johnny Barbato on Friday, but he’s “doing OK,” according to manager Torey Lovullo (via the Associated Press). Despite suffering a couple fractured teeth and a broken nose, Iannetta is “eager to play,” per Lovullo. However, the team is understandably taking a careful approach with Iannetta and is still deciding whether to place him on the disabled list.
- In another scary situation, Cardinals Triple-A pitching prospect Daniel Poncedeleon took a line drive off the head Tuesday and then underwent surgery Wednesday to relieve pressure around his brain. Poncedeleon has been in the intensive care unit of an Iowa hospital over the past few days, though doctors are “very encouraged by how things are progressing,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Saturday (per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com). “Right now, everything is going in a very positive direction,” continued Mozeliak. “You don’t want to speak in absolutes. You don’t want to draw conclusions. But we’re very encouraged with where he’s at.”