Chien-Ming Wang back to Nationals for $4 million

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The Nationals and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang have agreed to terms on a deal worth $4 million, pending a physical, says CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman.

It’s a larger-than-anticipated guarantee for the sinkerballer, who has made all of 20 starts the last three years. The contract will include incentives based on games started.

After pitching half-seasons in 2008 and 2009 and missing all of 2010 due to shoulder woes, Wang returned in the second half of 2011 to go 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts with the Nationals. He struck out just 25 in 62 1/3 innings during that span, but even though his velocity was down, his groundball rate was still among the best in the league. 53 percent of the balls hit against him were kept on the ground. For comparison’s sake, only 11 of the 94 pitchers to qualify for the ERA title did better, with Jake Westbrook leading the majors at 59 percent.

Wang will be part of a Nationals rotation also certain to include Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. John Lannan would be another given unless he’s traded, which would be a possibility if the Nationals sign another free-agent starter this winter. Ross Detwiler has to be the current favorite among the in-house candidates to round out the group.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.