Bryce Harper batted seventh in the Nationals’ lineup for each of his first four games, but manager Davey Johnson has decided to promote the 19-year-old to the No. 3 spot tonight.
That’s where the best hitter on the team generally bats and obviously in time the Nationals expect Harper to be that guy, but to be there already in his fifth game is surprising. And rare, too.
The last 19-year-old to bat third in a big-league game? B.J. Upton, who did so once in 2004. And before that it was Andruw Jones in 1996 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.
Something tells me he might not be going back to Triple-A when Ryan Zimmerman returns.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.