Bryce Harper: “I have to step up a little bit.”

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Bryce Harper didn’t exactly put up bad numbers last season, but they weren’t indicative of his talent. He also missed 57 games on the disabled list after tearing the UCL in his left hand while sliding into third base. He finished with a .273/.344/.423 slash line with 13 home runs and 32 RBI in 395 plate appearances.

Harper thinks he has to do more to contribute to the Nationals’ offense in 2015. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:

“I’ll help out for sure,” Harper said. “After losing LaRoche, I have to step up a little bit. I have to do what I need to do. Our pitching is going to take us to the top, hopefully, but we still have to have offense. We have to do the things we need to do. I’m ready to go. I’ll be feeling good.”

The Nationals’ calling card is certainly their pitching, but their offense is nothing to sneeze at, either. Last season, infielder Danny Espinosa and catcher Wilson Ramos were the only two of nine players to take at least 240 trips to the plate and post a below-average adjusted OPS (OPS+; below 100). Harper’s OPS+ was 111, bested by Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.