Rays release Mark Lowe despite impressive spring

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Mark Lowe has been fantastic this spring, throwing 10.1 innings with a 0.87 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio, but the Rays decided not to give him a spot in the Opening Day bullpen and granted the right-hander’s request to be released.

Lowe was injured and ineffective for the Angels last season, but for the Rangers in 2011 and 2012 he posted a combined 3.63 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 84 innings.

He signed with Tampa Bay on a minor-league deal in November and looked like a fairly typical Rays bounceback acquisition, so it’s curious that he’s not sticking after an impressive camp.

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.