Nationals ink Bryce Harper to $9.9 million contract

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After plenty of give and take, the Nationals signed first-overall pick Bryce Harper to a major league deal worth a guaranteed $9.9 million prior to Monday’s midnight deadline.
According to ESPN.com, Harper gets a $6.25 million signing bonus, though that will be paid over a five-year span. He’ll receive salaries of $500,000 in 2011 and 2012, $750,000 in 2013, $900,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015.
It’s a modest surprise that Harper settled for less than $10 million after Stephen Strasburg got $15.1 million a year ago. Harper, though, did get the major league deal he desired. He’ll go on to the 40-man roster immediately. No word yet, but it’d be no surprise if the arrangement guaranteed him a September callup next year.
The $9.9 million figure does top Mark Teixeira’s $9.5 million deal from 2001, which was the previous high water mark for a position player coming out of the draft.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.