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Harper saving next HR Derby appearance for a specific occasion

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Harper saving next HR Derby appearance for a specific occasion

BY PETER HAILEY

While it may not be as intense as the desire to see LeBron James in the NBA's Dunk Contest, baseball fans really want to see Bryce Harper participate in the Home Run Derby.

Sure, the 22-year-old already took part in the event once (he finished second in 2013's edition), but after a first half where he crushed 26 round-trippers, people wanted to get another dose of #34 repeatedly annihilating baseballs. So when it was announced a handful of days ago that Harper wouldn't appear in 2015's Derby, Nationals fans and home run enthusiasts alike were disappointed. 

On Tuesday, however, Harper said something related to his participation in the contest that will have everyone excited again -- as long as they can be patient, too, that is.

No, Harper won't do the Derby in 2016 at San Diego's Petco Park. And no, Harper won't be bashing baseballs in 2017 at Miami's Marlins Park. But, according to Scott Miller, Bryce intends to compete again in 2018, in front of his home fans at Nationals Park.

If Monday's exhibition was any indication of what 2018 will be like -- with Reds third baseman Todd Frazier finishing first in front of a raucous crowd -- people planning to attend the Derby may want to purchase their earplugs now; Harper hiting homers inside a packed Nats Park could create a pretty electric atmosphere.

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper – new Marvel superhero?

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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

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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