The Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen on Thursday night by signing free agent reliever Will Harris to a three-year pact worth $24 million in total.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first to report the agreement while USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale was all over the terms.
Free-agent reliever Will Harris is in agreement with the #Nationals on a multi-year deal, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 3, 2020
The #Nationals, who last saw reliever Will Harris in the World Series, have just signed him to a three-year, $24 million contract.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 3, 2020
On a more positive note, Harris’s 2019 was quite promising as the 35-year-old recorded a career-best 1.50 ERA and 4-1 record in a career-most 68 relief appearances. He also tallied four saves. In 60 innings, the former All-Star walked 14 batters while striking out 62. Perhaps most impressive is that while Harris faced a career-most 309 batters (his next most was 276), he still managed to record a career-best in runs and earned runs allowed with 14 and 10, respectively.
Harris registered 1.1 fWAR in 2019 while logging a xFIP mark of 3.04. His 54.6 percent ground ball rate marked the second-best of his career, as did his 2.1 BB/9 ratio and .245 BABIP. His 88.2 percent left-on-base mark was the best of his career.
Drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of LSU in the ninth round of the 2006 draft, Harris didn’t make his big-league debut until 2012 with Colorado. 2013 saw him head to the Oakland Athletics via waivers but he didn’t last, logging a zero in the appearance column before the Arizona Diamondbacks claimed him. He spent two years in Arizona before the Astros took a chance on him via the same waiver system. 2019 marks the first time he hit the open free agent market, and his deal with the Nats marks the fifth team he will be rostered for.
As Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post notes, the Nationals had been heavily involved in negotiations to re-sign Daniel Hudson, but Washington was not willing to top $13 million over two years and had to pass on him and pivot to Harris.
The Nationals were willing to go a second year for Daniel Hudson, but did not want to top $6.5 million on his average annual value. Harris' deal is for three years, according to a person with knowledge of the terms. This means Daniel Hudson will not return to Washington.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) January 3, 2020
Harris will join a bullpen already full of household names, including veterans such as Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Joe Ross, Roenis Elias, and Hunter Strickland.