Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is listed at 230 pounds and weighed in just under that at the end of the 2013 season, but his goal going into spring training is to “get as big as a house”, writes Anna McDonald for ESPN’s Sweet Spot. Astros strength and conditioning coach Jake Beiting is behind the approach, saying it’s common among younger players who haven’t finished growing yet. Harper turned 21 years old back in October.
Of the few things Harper hasn’t done in either of the two seasons he’s played at the big league level, it’s slug over .500. He finished at .477 in 2012 and .486 this past season. With a career-high of 22 home runs, it’s also not inconceivable to think he could get to 25 or even 30 home runs. It remains to be seen how much of a sacrifice, if any, he will have to make to his speed and defense with the added weight.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.