Harrison stays with Nats on 1-year contract

October 22nd, 2020

Josh Harrison had made such a strong impression in his short stint with the Nationals this year, manager Dave Martinez said at the end of the season, "There’ll definitely be some conversations about him this winter."

The team didn’t wait for the winter to lock in the veteran utility player for the 2021 roster. On Thursday, the Nationals agreed to terms with Harrison for a one-year contract. The deal is worth $1 million, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

“He’s fun to be around,” Martinez said of Harrison last month. “He understands the game. He’s a true constant every single day. You never have to tell him to be ready. He’s always ready, no matter what. … For me, that’s what you want on this team. He fits in.”

Harrison, 33, slashed .278/.352/.418 with two doubles, three homers, 14 RBIs, 11 runs and six walks over 33 games in his 10th Major League season. His ability to play multiple positions was valuable for the Nats as they were faced with injuries across the roster. The two-time NL All-Star made 22 starts -- eight at second base, seven at third base, three in left field, one in right field and three as the designated hitter -- and batted .309 with a .388 on-base percentage and .471 slugging percentage as a starter.

The relationship between Harrison and Martinez began years ago. They met when Martinez was a member of the Cubs’ coaching staff and Harrison was in his eight-year tenure with the Pirates, and Martinez was struck by Harrison’s passion for baseball. When Harrison requested to be released from Phillies Summer Camp this season so he could find a team that could utilize his skills immediately, the Nationals were a match.

After battling injuries in recent years, a healthy Harrison gave Washington a burst of energy and a reliable go-to across the lineup. Over his career with Pittsburgh, Detroit and Washington, he has a career average of .273/.314/.402, and he was named an All-Star in 2014 and ‘17.

“You never know where you’re going to end up in this game,” Harrison said last month. “I’m blessed. I was fortunate enough to find a situation like this when it didn’t work out with Philly. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better place, a better group of guys.”

Harrison is the first free-agent question addressed by the Nationals. Players entering free agency this offseason include infielders Ryan Zimmerman and Asdrúbal Cabrera, outfielder Michael A. Taylor, catcher Kurt Suzuki and pitchers Sean Doolittle and Roenis Elías.