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Nats minor-league pitcher Bryan Harper undergoes Tommy John surgery

Bryan Harper was drafted out of South Carolina in the 30th round in 2011. (Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics)

The Washington Nationals had until 5 p.m. Friday to add players to their 40-man roster who otherwise would have been available to other teams in the Rule 5 Draft, scheduled for Dec. 8. Not among the selections was left-hander Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and a presumed 40-man nominee after pitching himself on to the big league radar with a strong 2016 season. But the Nationals probably won’t have to worry about another team claiming the 26-year-old Harper because the reliever underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month, which should knock him out for the entire 2017 campaign.

The Nationals chose five minor leaguers: Outfielder Rafael Bautista, catcher Raudy Read, right-hander Austin Voth, and infielders Jose Marmolejos and Matt Skole. Players are eligible for the draft if they were signed by age 18 and have played five minor league seasons or signed after age 18 and have played four seasons, and aren’t on their organization’s 40-man roster.

While Harper remains unprotected for the Rule 5 draft, should a team select him, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t pitch for them and wind up returning to the Nationals next year. Based on rules in the current CBA, which expires Dec. 1, a player selected in the Rule 5 draft must spend the entire next season on the 40-man roster earning a major league salary and at least 90 days on the active roster outside September, when active rosters expand. If he doesn’t fulfill that requirement, rules stipulate that the team must offer him to his original club after the season. That team could then retain him if they can and want to.

Austin Voth, Rafael Bautista among five additions to Nationals 40-man roster

So, in this case, Harper could get picked in the Rule 5 draft, not pitch in 2017, and return to the Nationals next October. If that were to happen, Harper would go through the same process next year to satisfy the Rule 5 procedural rule, meaning the Nationals would have to put him on their 40-man or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft again. Essentially, not protecting Harper doesn’t present a risk because the Nationals could have Harper when he’s available to pitch again.

A 30th-round draft pick out of South Carolina in 2011, Harper posted a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings for Class AA Harrisburg before a promotion to Class AAA Syracuse. He tallied a 3.80 ERA for Syracuse in 21 1/3 innings, giving him a 2.18 overall ERA in 45 1/3 innings across 40 appearances, before he was shut down with a forearm strain in early August.

The Nationals’ 40-man roster currently stands at 36 players. It will grow to 37 once Chris Heisey’s one-year deal becomes official.