Nationals and Stephen Strasburg agree to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration

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The Nationals and right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg have agreed to a one-year, $3.975 million deal with performance bonuses, avoiding arbitration. The report comes to us from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Strasburg, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time and is entering 2014 with the momentum of back-to-back solid seasons. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts in 2012 and an even 3.00 ERA in 30 starts this past season. Additionally, the only starters with a higher strikeout rate than Strasburg since the start of 2012 are Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer. If Strasburg continues to improve in 2014, he’ll make his remaining two years of arbitration eligibility interesting for the Nationals in terms of figuring out an enticing figure for a multi-year contract extension.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.

Bryce Harper sets April record for runs scored

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With four runs scored during Sunday’s 23-5 drubbing of the Mets, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper set a new April record for runs scored at 32, MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin reports. The record was previously held by Larry Walker, who scored 29 runs for the Rockies in April 1997.

Harper finished 2-for-4 with a pair of walks and a solo home run (off of Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki) on the afternoon. He’s now hitting .391/.509/.772 with nine home runs and 26 RBI on the year.