Bryce Harper
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Nationals reportedly talking to Bryce Harper again

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A little less than a month ago, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner seemed to close the door on Bryce Harper coming back. At least unless he accepted the reported $300 million offer the club made Harper before the season began. The message from Lerner in December being that the Nats won’t go any higher than that and won’t negotiate about it. It was, basically, a take-it-or-leave it offer.

Or was it?

Also worth noting that Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported earlier this week that Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, had a five-hour meeting with the Nationals before Christmas.

It’s worth mentioning that Bowden is a former Nationals general manager. For her part, Janes has, in the past, been known to pass along talking points from the Nationals fairly uncritically. As such, it’s possible that this is all just stuff coming from the Nationals in an effort to make it seem like they’re working hard to bring Harper back, either to make fans less mad at them if he walks or to drive up the price for the division rival Phillies, who are said to be interested in Harper. Of course, if a five-hour meeting did happen, there had to be at least some turkey talked, right? It’s not like they were watching the first two “Godfather” movies back-to-back. Which would be cool, obviously, but not really productive.

All of which is to say that the previous talk about the Nats not negotiating with Harper at all seems no longer operative and they have to at least be considered some sort of contender to bring their former outfielder back.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.