Bryce Harper is struggling at baseball for what might be the first time in his life.
Promoted from low Single-A to Double-A last week, the former No. 1 overall pick has gone just 6-for-35 (.171) with zero extra-base hits through 10 games against Eastern League pitching.
He’s an 18-year-old in a league where the average player is 24 and skipped high Single-A altogether, so perhaps the struggles shouldn’t be surprising, but it does show any Nationals fans who wanted Harper in Washington already that baseball is really, really hard.
On the fast track since signing with the Nationals, he skipped rookie-ball and earned a quick promotion by hitting .318 with a .977 OPS in 72 games at low Single-A. He’ll get on track at Double-A soon enough and 10 bad games does nothing to alter Harper’s long-term outlook, but whatever slim odds he had of reaching the majors in his first pro season have diminished even further.
And that’s not such a bad thing. Mike Trout made headlines earlier this month for debuting with the Angels at age 19 and he’s 14 months older than Harper. There’s plenty of time and plenty more regrettable tattoos to get before arriving in Washington.
Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:
Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.
Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.
The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.
Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.
Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.