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.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.
The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.
Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.
Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.
The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.
Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.
Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.