Bryce Harper supplied all of the offense for the Nationals last night with a three-run home run off Henderson Alvarez in the bottom of the first inning. He joined some exclusive company in the process.
After hitting 22 home runs as a 19-year-old rookie last season, Harper now has 20 home runs in his age-20 season. Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com notes that he’s just the second player ever to have two 20-homer seasons before turning 21 years old, joining former Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro (1964-1965).
Harper also has the third-most home runs (42) before his 21st birthday. Conigliaro is second all-time with 56 while Hall of Famer Mel Ott is first with 61. Harper might have been able to make a run at those two if he wasn’t dealing with nagging injuries for most of the season, but he’s still doing some very special things at a young age.
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.