After missing most of last season with a pair of procedures to repair a herniated disk in his back, Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison continues to have some bad luck on the health front.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Harrison is dealing with stiffness in his lower back and will return to Texas to be examined by a specialist. The southpaw was scratched from throwing live batting practice Tuesday due to stiffness in his neck, but it has now moved down to the general area where he had surgery last year, though on the opposite side. That’s still cause for concern, so the Rangers will have him undergo an MRI and get checked out.
The Rangers will already be without Derek Holland until midseason following knee surgery, so losing Harrison for the start of the season would be a tough blow. As of now, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando are considered locks for the rotation while Colby Lewis, Tommy Hanson, Robbie Ross, and Nick Tepesch would be in the mix for the final two spots if Harrison isn’t ready to go.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.