Josh Harrison joined the Nationals four days into the 2020 season. The veteran utilityman quickly made himself invaluable on and off the field, so much so that the club wasted no time ensuring he’d be back in 2021.
The Nationals re-signed Harrison to a one-year deal this morning, making the 33-year-old the first of their pending free agents to get a new contract that will keep him in Washington for another season. He’ll earn $1 million in base salary, plus an additional $250,000 in incentives, according to a source familiar with the terms.
Harrison wasn’t originally in the Nats’ plans this season, but after the Phillies released him at the end of summer training, general manager Mike Rizzo immediately moved to bring him on board. Harrison, who had driven with his family from Philadelphia to his home in Cincinnati, dropped everyone off and headed straight for D.C. He missed the season’s opening series against the Yankees, but remained on the active roster the rest of the way.
In 33 games, Harrison hit .278 with three homers, 14 RBIs and a .352 on-base percentage, proving a valuable right-handed bat off the bench who can play all over the field. Though he mostly played second and third bases, he also appeared in left and right fields and even made his career debut at first base for one inning.
Though he was new to the clubhouse, Harrison fit in right away and became something of a leader to teammates, most notably on the day the Nationals and Phillies decided not to play in an attempt to redirect attention toward racial inequality and police brutality.
A two-time All-Star with the Pirates, Harrison has bounced around the last two seasons, playing for the Tigers in 2019, then failing to make the Phillies’ roster on a minor-league deal before finding a new home with the Nationals this year.
“You never know where you’re going to end up in this game, and I’m blessed,” Harrison said in late September. “I was fortunate enough to find a situation like this when it didn’t work out with Philly, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better place, a better group of guys.”
Manager Davey Martinez immediately took a liking to Harrison, who became all the more important to the roster when Howie Kendrick suffered a hamstring injury. By season’s end, the manager was openly endorsing his return for the 2021 season.
“I hope when we sit back at the end of this year, when we start evaluating things and what we need, for me, he’s somebody we need,” Martinez said.
Today, the Nationals officially confirmed Harrison is somebody they need in 2021.