Nationals

Quick Links

Bryce Harper on NL East: 'The team to beat is the Mets'

usatsi_8843941.jpg

Bryce Harper on NL East: 'The team to beat is the Mets'

VIERA, FL. — There was no 'where's my ring?'-type soundbite from Bryce Harper in his first spring training media availability on Monday. He instead gave deference to the New York Mets, who enter 2016 as the defending NL East and National League champions.

Harper knows the Nats are not predicted by most to win the division as they have been in years past. It's now their turn to try and supplant the champs from the season before.

"We definitely have a challenge. The team to beat is the Mets and that's what it is right now. They kicked the crap out of our division last year and hopefully we can come in this year and do the best we can to knock them off," he said.

Many around baseball forecast the Mets as the favorites in the NL East given they retained Yoenis Cespedes and boast one of the best starting rotations in recent memory. Harper explained the challenge of facing their starting staff.

"The Mets are a great team," he said. "They're a great staff. Definitely don't want to give them too much credit, but they're incredible."

The Mets made it all the way to the World Series in 2015 with their rotation leading the way. They have three young stars in Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. 

Harper is looking forward to the challenge of facing them again this season.

"That's what's fun about baseball. You have guys like that and you get to face guys like that."

[RELATED: Harper aims to put Papelbon issue to rest: 'It was squashed that day']

Quick Links

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

Quick Links

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE