Nats acquire reliever Harper from Twins for recent draft pick

The Nationals added another major league arm to their bullpen today, acquiring right-hander Ryne Harper from the Twins for 2019 draft pick Hunter McMahon.

Harper, 30, spent eight seasons in the minors with the Braves, Mariners and Twins before finally making his big league debut last year. He wound up becoming a prominent member of Minnesota's bullpen, going 4-2 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.178 WHIP in 61 appearances.

Harper-Ryne-Twins-sidebar.jpgRelying on a slow curve that he threw a whopping 60 percent of the time, Harper struck out 50 batters while walking only 10 in 54 1/3 innings.

Originally a 37th-round pick of the Braves in 2011, Harper was designated for assignment by the Twins last week when the club needed to clear a roster spot for newly signed slugger Josh Donaldson. His addition leaves the Nationals with a full 40-man roster for now.

Harper will come to spring training with a chance to make the opening day roster, though there may only be one bullpen spot up for grabs. Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson and Will Harris all are guaranteed jobs, and Tanner Rainey, Wander Suero, Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elías figure to enter camp with a leg up for four more spots.

That probably leaves only one spot open, with re-signed veteran Javy Guerra, previously acquired Kyle Finnegan and someone who loses the competition for the No. 5 starter's job (Erick Fedde, Joe Ross or Austin Voth) all in the running. Harper does have options, so the Nationals could send him to the minors to begin the season without risk of losing his rights.

McMahon was the Nats' ninth-round pick in last summer's draft from Texas State. The 21-year-old went 2-1 with an 0.71 ERA in nine relief appearances between the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals and short-season Single-A Auburn.

Nationals acquire right-handed pitcher Ryne Harper
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