Sean Rodriguez, Rays avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Tampa Bay has avoided arbitration with Sean Rodriguez, signing the infielder to a one-year, $1 million deal.

Rodriguez hasn’t hit as well as hoped based on his minor-league track record, batting just .225 with a .658 OPS that included a measly .607 mark this year, but he’s gotten 378, 436, and 342 plate appearances for the Rays during the past three seasons.

At age 28 he figures to fill a similar utility man/quasi-starter role in 2013.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.