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Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year deals today with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark and newly acquired catcher Derek Norris.

If team's and players didn't agree to contracts by today's 1 p.m. ET deadline, an independent arbitrator will rule on the contract at a later date and decide how much the player will play for in 2017. 

Harper and the Nationals agreed to a $13.625 million deal, which was significantly more than the $9.3 million contract that was projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Last season, coming off his 2015 MVP campaign, Harper made $5 million. The 24-year-old will be a free agent after the 2018 season. 

Harper is coming off a disappointing season by his standards, in which he hit just .243 with 24 homers, which was way down from his total of 42 dingers in 2015. 

According to multiple reports, Rendon signed for $5.8 million, Roark signed for $4.315 million and Norris' deal was for $4.2 million.

Roark made just $543,400 last season, which he vastly out-performed. Roark was one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League last year as he won 16 games and posted a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings of work. 

With today's signings, all of the Nationals' arbitration-eligible players are under contract for 2017. 

Related: Tanner Roark to replace Max Scherzer on World Baseball Classic roster

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Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander spring training matchup: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander spring training matchup: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander never faced each other last fall when the Nationals beat the Houston Astros in seven games to win the World Series.

It was a matchup between two former Detroit Tigers teammates that fans would've loved to see, but they'll have to settle for a February spring training game instead.

Scherzer and Verlander will take the hill for their respective clubs on Thursday as the defending pennant winners gear up for the start of the 2020 season.

Here's everything you need to know before first pitch Thursday night.

Nationals vs. Astros spring training matchup: How to Watch

Who: Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros
What: Grapefruit League game with Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander
When: Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 6:05 p.m. ET
Where: FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
TV Channel: You can watch Nationals vs. Astros on MLB Network
Radio: 106.7 The Fan (until 7:45 p.m. ET)

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Juan Soto hits his first home run of spring training

Juan Soto hits his first home run of spring training

When asked last week what his spring training goals were, Juan Soto simply said: "to make the team."

Soto doesn't need to worry about his spot given his status as one of the league's best young players, but he began to make his case with an opposite-field home run on Tuesday. 

During the 2019 season, the lefty showed his ability to hit for power all over the field. Of the 37 home runs Soto hit between the regular season and playoffs, 20 were to the opposite side of the field, according to Fangraphs' spray chart.

After the ball left his bat Tuesday, Soto began his trot around the bases as the ball sailed over the fence in left-center field. 

His trot around the diamond looked as comfortable as he should feel with his standing on the Nationals' roster, but it's promising to see a young star resist complacency.  

After hitting .282 with 34 home runs and 110 RBIs last season, Soto's spring training blast is only a preview of what's to come when the reigning champions defend their title this season. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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