Good news for the Nationals. Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com passes along word that Bryce Harper is back in the starting lineup this afternoon against the Mets.
Harper left the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader after he aggravated his left knee while making a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Daniel Murphy in the fifth inning. He wasn’t in the starting lineup for the nightcap, but grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Fortunately for the Nationals, the knee issue appears to be nothing more than a minor scare.
Harper, 20, is batting .270/.371/.517 with 14 home runs and 31 RBI in 66 games this season. The Nationals enter play this afternoon at 50-54, 8.5 games behind the Braves in the National League East and nine back for a Wild Card spot.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.