This Harper should not be confused with former Nats’ minor-leaguer Bryan Harper, who’s also a 30-year-old right-hander. The Nationals’ incoming hurler was acquired after he was designated for assignment recently by the Twins.
The Nationals obviously faced some competition to bring in Harper, as they parted with a recent ninth-round draft pick to get him. McMahon, 21, signed an at-slot deal to join the D.C. farm system. He impressed in his first 12 2/3 professional innings, racking up an 18:2 K/BB ratio and allowing just one earned run in the low minors.
It seems there’s a good chance we’ll see another Harper uniform in D.C. While Bryan never made it past Triple-A, big brother Bryce was rather a notable player with the team for a stretch.
The Nats’ newest Harper isn’t exactly a high-ceiling player but could be quite a useful asset. He reached the bigs for the first time in 2019, spinning 54 1/3 innings of 3.81 ERA ball with 8.3 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 1.16 HR/9 while leaning on his excellent control and heavily utilized breaking ball. If he can repeat something along those lines, the still-optionable Harper would be well worth his non-guaranteed, league-minimum salary.
As for McMahon, the 21-year-old was the Nationals’ ninth-round pick just this past summer in the 2019 draft. The Texas State product allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings of relief with an 18-to-2 K/BB ratio in his brief professional debut.