12:57pm: The Nationals have announced the signing. Harrison will be in uniform for tonight’s game. Catcher Raudy Read was optioned to alternate camp to make space on the 30-man roster.
July 27, 10:15am: Harrison has passed his physical and Covid-19 tests, Heyman tweets. A formal announcement should be made by the team today.
July 25, 8:54pm: The Nats and Harrison have agreed to a contract, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. The deal will become official once Harrison passes a physical.
10:52am: The Washington Nationals are closing in on a deal with Josh Harrison, tweets Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. The Nats had looked into Harrison before signing Brian Dozier ahead of the 2019 season (Twitter links). Moments before Dougherty’s post, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that Harrison had multiple major-league offers in hand.
Harrison was only recently released from the Phillies after not making their Opening Day roster. The veteran infielder has primarily played second and third base in his career, but he’s a flexible defender who could see time in the outfield in a pinch as well.
Harrison has struggled to find his footing since his best years with the Pirates. After signing a $2MM deal with the Tigers last offseason, a partially torn hamstring ended his season in late May, leading to his release in August. Harrison appeared in only 36 games with the Tigers, slashing a tough-to-stomach .175/.218/.263. The 33-year-old still owns a career triple-slash of .273/.313/.401 over nine seasons.
The Nationals have their infield minutes fairly well accounted for between Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Trea Turner, Howie Kendrick, Eric Thames, and Carter Kieboom. The organization was shook by Juan Soto’s positive coronavirus test on Opening Day, per Dougherty, and this move could be as simple as the Nats wanting to protect themselves againast an uncertain playing environment. They’ve been bit by a lack of depth in the past, and while Harrison isn’t the type of ballplayer likely to invigorate a fanbase, he’s a veteran who might be more capable than a rookie of handling the dynamic playing conditions of 2020.