Nationals sign Nate McLouth

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Nate McLouth won’t have to move far, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the former Orioles outfielder has agreed to a two-year deal with the Nationals.

There’s no starting job for McLouth in Washington, where Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth all figure to play almost every day, but Rosenthal says he’s “expected to get significant at-bats” in a fourth outfielder role.

How that will happen is unclear, especially since the most likely outfielder to take a seat on the bench is Span when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound and McLouth is also a left-handed hitter. It’s the same role David DeJesus seemed destined to fill when the Nationals claimed him off waivers in August, but then they quickly shipped him to the Rays.

McLouth turned his career around with the Orioles, going from nearly out of baseball to hitting .261 with a .742 OPS and 42 steals in 201 games.

UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun says the deal is worth $10.75 million, which is big money for a backup outfielder who doesn’t actually play center field well.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.