Nationals Chatter: Nats seek identity, LaRoche's popularity grows, Desmond contract and more

This time next week, meaningful baseball will be played.

That's right - in just five days, the regular season will be under way.

You may have missed some stories from national outlets coming out of the last week of camp. Don't worry, I have you covered.

* Several of the Nationals' core players have been together for many years. Many were part of the 2012 team that won the National League East title, but suffered a National League Division Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Last season, the Nats underperformed when many in the media handpicked them to win the World Series. This year, the team must find its identity, especially with new manager Matt Williams, writes Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post.

* First baseman and fan favorite Adam LaRoche may not sell the most jerseys for the Nationals, but he is one popular dude. LaRoche has befriended country music stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, as well as "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robinson. In addition, LaRoche is usually one of the first players on the Nationals to welcome new teammates to the club. Want to read more about LaRoche and his social life? Click here.

* Over the weekend, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Nats shortstop Ian Desmond was offered a multiyear contract extension, believed to be worth about $90 million. Desmond, however, rejected the deal. Desmond is currently locked up through the end of next year after he signed a two-year contract extension worth $17.5 million in the offseason. Heyman notes Desmond has similar numbers to Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who just signed a eight-year contract worth $120 million.

* CBS Sports recently came out with a list of what top prospects could make an impact on each team in 2014. For the Nationals, right-hander Christian Garcia has the best chance of making an impact on the Nats roster. It might be difficult to classify Garcia as a prospect - after all, he is 28 and he did make his major league debut in 2012. Garcia has suffered his fair share of injuries, however. He has had forearm and hamstring problems in the past. But CBS Sports believes if Garcia can stay healthy, he will be a valuable late-inning reliever for Williams. Infielder Zach Walters was listed as an honorable mention.

* ESPN released its first edition of MLB Confidential for the 2014 season. This list appears in ESPN The Magazine several times a season. The Magazine polls anonymous major league players (143 of them, to be exact) and asks them to weigh in on several topics. Bryce Harper was voted the most overrated player by his peers. (The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig ranked second and suspended Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez was third.) The Nationals were tied with the Braves as 7 percent favorites to win the World Series. To see more of the poll, click here. I found it very interesting.

* Finally, I'll leave you with something from the world of minor league baseball. The Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, are giving some fans free tickets for life. There's just one condition, however. One must get a tattoo of the Chiefs logo. The team will host Carmelo's Ink City Tattoo Night at NBT Bank Stadium on July 1. Any fan who receives a tattoo will get free tickets for life.

That's a wrap of this week's Nationals Chatter. Don't forget to come back to MASNsports.com for complete Nationals coverage.

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