Bogar affirms that Nats value versatility

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The writing has been on the wall all offseason. Baseball has changed over recent years, and the Nationals have committed to adapting to it.

Versatility is the name of the game.

Gone are the days managers would trot out the same eight defenders in their same designated positions along with a starting pitcher expected to go seven or eight innings every day over the course of a 162-game season.

Now it’s all about getting more bang for your buck. Can a player fill multiple roles? Can he play all over the infield, or both the infield and the outfield? Can a fringe starting pitcher also be a swing man out of the bullpen?

Find a way to keep your best players fresh and on the field as much as possible based on what the matchups dictate.

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Nats add veteran reliever Colomé on minor league deal

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The Nationals added another experienced reliever this afternoon to what already looked like a deep bullpen, signing veteran right-hander Alex Colomé to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.

Colomé, 34, isn’t guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster and will have to prove himself during spring training. But his lengthy track record as a late-inning reliever should give him a leg up over others trying to break camp with the club.

The Nationals have long been intrigued by Colomé, his name having come up several times in the past when they were searching for late-inning help at the trade deadline. Only now, on the heels of back-to-back rough seasons with the Twins and Rockies, is he finally joining the club.

Owner of 159 career saves, Colomé was an All-Star with a 1.91 ERA in 2016 and closed out 47 games for the Rays in 2017, leading the league.

Traded the following year to the Mariners – along with former Nationals center fielder Denard Span – he continued to enjoy success in Seattle and then in Chicago with the White Sox. At the end of the 2020 season, he sported a 2.95 ERA and 1.177 WHIP across 326 big league appearances.

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My 2023 Hall of Fame ballot

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Every Hall of Fame ballot is different. Some years, they’re stacked with qualified candidates, leading at times to a forced paring down of choices to adhere to the Hall’s longstanding rule against voting for more than 10 players. Some years, they’re lacking in obvious choices, which can lead to only a handful of votes and unfortunately no new inductees.

The 2023 ballot leaned more toward the latter description than the former.

Of the 28 names up for consideration – a big drop from the 35-player ballot of 2019 – there were no absolute, slam-dunk choices, no clear first-time electees who don’t even require a moment of research before placing a checkmark next to their name.

There were 14 newcomers to this ballot, and the most notable of them (Carlos Beltran) carried with him the stigma of the 2017 Astros’ electronic sign-stealing scandal. There were 14 returning players who received at least 5 percent support last year, and the best among those were longtime hopefuls Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner. There were better players than those eligible for election, but each was tainted by the stain of performance enhancing drug usage (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield).

The end result of all that: Rolen was the only player who crossed the sacred 75 percent threshold this year. And he barely did, named on 76.3 percent of ballots. Helton came up just short, receiving 72.2 percent support, with Wagner following him at 68.1 percent.

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Coles believes Meneses' late success is sustainable

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Joey Meneses took the Nationals and the major leagues by storm over the season’s final two months last year. The 30-year-old rookie had spent 10 years in the minors, Mexican and Japanese professional leagues before having his contract selected by the Nationals and making his major league debut on Aug. 2 against the Mets.

Not many people knew who Meneses was when he was introduced as the starting first baseman batting sixth that night at Nationals Park. Most fans were still lamenting over the trade that sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres earlier that day.

But Meneses made sure Nats fans knew who he was by the end of the game, hitting a leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh to secure a 5-1 win over the first-place Mets. With that longball, he became the first Mexican-born player and the fifth-oldest player in major league history to homer in his major league debut.

And he never looked back.

From that point on, Meneses was second in the National League with 72 hits, a .324 average and a .930 OPS. He was tied for fourth in the league with 13 home runs and tied for fifth with 27 extra-base hits.

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More on Nats' newest international class

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With the international signing period opening on Sunday, the Nationals agreed to terms with 14 amateur free agents.

A lot was made of the inclusion of Elian Soto, the younger brother of former Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto who flipped his intention to sign with the Mets a year ago just months before his older brother was traded to the Padres.

But the younger Soto, who also hits from the left side and was interestingly labeled as an outfielder in the Nats’ official release after also playing third base last year, is just one player. And quite frankly, he is not as highly regarded as his brother and fellow signees of this class.

So let’s take a look at three other players the Nationals signed over the weekend who are highly thought of in this last group of international signings.

Manuel Cabrera is a 16-year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who reportedly signed for $500,000 and is MLB Pipeline’s No. 39 ranked prospect in this class. Scouting reports say he has the defensive abilities, including a strong arm, to play any position in the infield and has the bat speed and strength from the right side of the plate to have an upside to hit at the top of the lineup. He’s also been praised for his baseball IQ.

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Elian Soto headlines Nats' latest international signings

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The international signing period officially opened this morning, an avenue the Nationals have been traditionally successful in using to acquire young talent.

To open the 2023 signing period, the Nationals announced they have agreed to terms with 14 international free agents: right-handers Jose Feliz, Leuris Portorreal and Enyerber Riveo; left-hander Juan Reyes; catcher Agustin Marcano; infielders Manuel Cabrera, Eikel Joaquin and Edwin Solano; and outfielders Andy Acevedo, Carlos Batista, Hector Liriano, Juan Obispo, Elian Soto and Carlos Tavares.

Elian Soto is Juan Soto’s younger brother who made headlines this time last year when he reportedly flipped his intention to sign with the Mets to the Nats. That became official today as he reportedly agreed to a deal worth a $225,000 signing bonus and an additional $200,000 for a scholarship grant. Last summer’s trade with the Padres seemingly did not have an impact on the younger Soto’s feelings toward signing with the Nationals organization.

Like his brother, Elian demonstrates power from the left side of the plate while playing third base and the outfield. Also like Juan, Elian is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who just negotiated a $23 million salary for the 24-year-old superstar this season with the Padres through the arbitration process.

But unlike his brother, Elian is not considered a top prospect in this class.

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Nationals agree to terms with 14 international free agents

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The Washington Nationals agreed to terms with 14 international free agents on Sunday. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo and Vice President and Assistant General Manager of International Operations Johnny DiPuglia made the joint announcement. 

COLOMBIA

PLAYER                POS        B/T         HT          WT         AGE        D.O.B.                  HOMETOWN                       SIGNING SCOUT

Agustin Marcano    C                R/R           6’0”          160           16              6/28/06                    Bogota                                          Miguel Ruiz

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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Dickerson out to prove he can still play

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Corey Dickerson is the latest veteran to sign with the Nationals. And he brings the most experience.

While Jeimer Candelario (29 years old), Trevor Williams (30) and Dominic Smith (27) have played seven, seven and six major league seasons, respectively, Dickerson, 33, is entering his 11th season in the bigs, now with his eighth different club.

Unlike the Nats’ other three major league signings this offseason, Dickerson isn’t looking to kickstart his career for the long run with a fresh start on a new team. He’s more out to show that he can still play.

A former All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, Dickerson, who has spent time with the Rockies, Rays, Pirates, Phillies, Marlins, Blue Jays and Cardinals, says he still has something to prove to the baseball world.

“That I'm a good baseball player,” Dickerson said when asked what he wants to prove this year. He spoke via Zoom with reporters after signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Nats on Tuesday. “That I can do more than just one thing. I think I can still hit for power. A lot of people have written me off with that. … I still think I can hit for power, I can do many things well.”

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Robles is lone Nats player to file for arbitration (updated)

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It's deadline day for all major leaguers with more than three years and fewer than six years of service time to agree to terms with their clubs on 2023 salaries or else file for arbitration. The Nationals have six unsigned players facing today's deadline: Victor Robles, Kyle Finnegan, Lane Thomas, Carl Edwards Jr., Victor Arano and Hunter Harvey.

Bobby Blanco and I will be keeping track of any deals that come together over the course of the day, so check back for updates along the way ...

* Harvey is the first player to sign. The Nationals announced the right-hander has agreed to terms on his 2023 contract, avoiding arbitration. We don't have numbers yet, but MLB Trade Rumors projected a $1 million salary for him in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Harvey, 28, had something of a breakthrough season out of the Nats bullpen after years of injuries with the Orioles. He did miss several months with an elbow strain, but he returned strong and finished the season healthy, with a 2.52 ERA and 1.144 WHIP, striking out 45 batters in 39 1/3 innings. He should enter the season at worst as the Nationals' seventh inning reliever, setting up Edwards and Finnegan.

* Next up is Edwards, who has avoided arbitration with his own one-year deal. The Washington Post reports he'll earn $2.25 million, which is a nice bump from his league minimum salary last season after he joined the club on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old right-hander was a revelation, producing a 2.76 ERA and 1.226 WHIP over 57 appearances, his best season since 2018 with the Cubs.

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Nats trade for 18-year-old righty Cristian Jimenez

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The Nationals have acquired RHP Cristian Jimenez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP AJ Alexy, who was designated for assignment on Jan. 4.

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Nationals agree to terms with outfielder Corey Dickerson

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The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with outfielder Corey Dickerson and designated right-handed pitcher Andrés Machado for assignment on Tuesday. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Dickerson, 33, hit .281 with a .324 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage in 1,034 games across 10 Major League seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals. He recorded 230 doubles, 36 triples, 134 home runs, 452 RBI, 220 walks and 471 runs scored in that time fame. Dickerson was named an American League All-Star in 2017 with Tampa Bay and won a National League Rawlings Gold Glove in 2018 with Pittsburgh.

Last season, Dickerson hit .267 with 17 doubles, a triple, six home runs, 36 RBI and 12 walks in 96 games for the St. Louis Cardinals. He collected two hits in six at-bats (.333) during the 2022 Postseason. 

Dickerson has hit .300 or better in a season four times in his career (2014-15, 2018-19) and has hit 20 or more home runs in a season three times in his career (2014, 2016-17), including a career-high 27 homers in his 2017 All-Star campaign with Tampa Bay.

A native of McComb, Miss., Dickerson was selected in the eighth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Meridian Community College.

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Nationals to face Yankees in exhibition game at Nats Park

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The Washington Nationals conclude their preseason schedule against the reigning American League East champion New York Yankees at Nationals Park on Tuesday, March 28 at 12:05 PM. Tickets are on sale now at nationals.com/Tickets.

Just two days before Opening Day, fans have the unique opportunity to watch the Nationals go up against AL home run king Aaron Judge and the rest of the Yankees in the squad’s final tune-up before the official start of the regular season. Broadcast information for the game will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the exhibition game and all regular-season games except Opening Day are on sale now at nationals.com/Tickets. Tickets for the Nationals’ Opening Day game vs. the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, March 30, go on sale later this month with special presale access for Season Plan Holders and Fan Club members.

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Nats announce 1-year deal with Dickerson, DFA Machado (updated)

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The Nationals are finalizing a one-year deal with veteran Corey Dickerson, a source familiar with the negotiations confirmed, addressing another pressing need in left field.

The deal with Dickerson, which includes a $2.25 million salary plus incentives, is contingent upon the 33-year-old passing a physical, the source said.

Once it’s finalized, the Nationals will have some more clarity about the makeup of a 2023 lineup that will look quite different from the one they fielded last season. If Dickerson is the primary left fielder, Joey Meneses would likely serve as the primary designated hitter, with the newly signed Dominic Smith at first base. Jeimer Candelario, another new addition this winter, is expected to start at third base.

Even if Dickerson is the Nats’ primary left fielder, he probably won’t play every day, given his longstanding struggles against left-handed pitching. Over his career, the lefty-hitting outfielder owns a .287/.331/.505 offensive slash line against right-handers, compared to .259/.299/.394 against left-handers. The disparity was even greater last season in St. Louis, where Dickerson took only 28 plate appearances vs. lefties and went 2-for-26.

An All-Star with the Rays in 2017 and a Gold Glove Award winner with the Pirates in 2018, Dickerson averaged 30 doubles and 18 homers during his first six full years in the majors. He’s been less productive the last three years, though he still maintained a league-average 100 OPS-plus in 2022 with the Cardinals, batting .267/.300/.399 with 17 doubles and six homers in 297 plate appearances.

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Smith looking forward to "fresh start" in Washington

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Rebuilding teams and reeling veterans are perfect matches for each other. Bring experience and leadership to a young clubhouse while playing every day to rejuvenate your career while the team develops prospects.

It’s often a mutually beneficial relationship.

The Nationals are certainly banking on that being true as this is how they’ve filled holes on their roster with three of their major league signings so far this offseason.

Jeimer Candelario, signed to a one-year deal in November, was non-tendered by the Tigers after six seasons. Trevor Williams, signed to a two-year deal last month, entered free agency knowing his role with the Mets was limited, either in the rotation or bullpen.

And Dominic Smith, who signed a one-year deal this week, was looking for a fresh start after being non-tendered by the Mets.

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Nationals sign three to minor league deals

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The Nationals have signed the following players to Minor League contracts with invites to 2023 MLB Spring Training: LHP Anthony Banda, INF Michael Chavis and LHP Francisco Pérez.

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Nationals agree to terms with Dominic Smith

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The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with first baseman Dominic Smith and designated right-handed pitcher A.J. Alexy for assignment on Wednesday. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Smith, 27, hit .246 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging percentage in 447 games across six Major League seasons with the New York Mets. He recorded 78 doubles, three triples, 46 home runs, 179 RBI, 95 walks and 147 runs scored in that time fame. Smith hit double-digit home runs in three of his last four seasons.

From 2019 through 2021, Smith slashed .269/.332/.455 while clubbing 51 doubles, one triple, 32 homers and 125 RBI in 284 games. He set or matched career marks in nearly every offensive category in 2021, including home runs (11), runs (43), hits (109), RBI (58), walks (32) and stolen bases (two).

 Smith ranked among National League hitters in doubles (2nd, 21), extra-base hits (T2nd, 32), OPS (4th, .993), slugging percentage (4th, .616), RBI (T5th, 42) and batting average (8th, .316) during the 60-game season in 2020.

Smith appeared in 58 Major League games in 2022, hitting .194 with 10 doubles, one triple, 17 RBI, 12 walks and 11 runs scored. He hit .284/.367/.472 with 11 doubles, 10 homers, 38 RBI, 25 walks, four stolen bases and 42 runs scored in 54 games with Triple-A Syracuse. 

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Important candidates wishing to bounce back from injury

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It's Christmas morning, and all who celebrate are rushing to see if their holiday wishes were placed under the tree.

For the Nationals, that could have been any number of things coming off a 107-loss year.

But like every major league team over the course of a 162-game season, the Nationals dealt with their fair share of injuries this year.

In fact, they placed 24 different players on the injured list for 25 different stints, with Stephen Strasburg landing on the 10-day IL at the start of the season while recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome, and then on the 60-day IL with a stress reaction in his ribs after his lone start in June.

Those 24 players combined to miss 1,778 games for the Nationals in 2022. So like many, the Nats may be wishing for better health in 2023.

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Looking back at the Josh Bell trade

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Two years ago today, the Nationals made a surprise acquisition that created a busier Christmas Eve than we were expecting in the D.C. area. General manager Mike Rizzo was able to send two minor league pitchers to the Pirates for All-Star first baseman Josh Bell.

While the timing was surprising, the acquisition itself was not. The Nationals had made the first baseman a potential trade target for a while, with the expectation at the time being he would get a majority of the starts at first while Ryan Zimmerman would be the backup if he returned for his 17th campaign after sitting out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Rizzo won praise for the early Christmas present to Nats fans in acquiring a power bat to provide protection for Juan Soto and Trea Turner in the lineup with two years left of team control and without giving up any top prospects. At the time, the Nats’ most coveted prospects were Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge, Carter Kieboom and Yasel Antuna.

Only Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean were required to bring Bell to Washington. At the time, Crowe was 26 years old and the Nats’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and Yean was 19 and the club’s No. 6 prospect.

Crowe had made his major league debut that summer, posting an 11.88 ERA and 2.640 WHIP in 8 ⅓ innings over his three starts. A second-round pick in 2017 out of South Carolina, the right-hander was expected to compete as a rotation depth piece the following spring.

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Nationals claim former top-100 prospect Jeter Downs

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The Nationals have claimed infielder Jeter Downs on outright waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the Nationals have designated Reed Garrett for assignment.

The 40-man roster stands at 40.

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Downs adds needed infield depth with potential for high upside

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The Nationals’ latest waiver claim was noteworthy in that it was a well known name that was surprisingly available.

Jeter Downs, whom the Nats claimed on outright waivers from the Red Sox yesterday, is known for being a former top shortstop prospect and being included in two major trades since the Reds made him the No. 32 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

He was grouped with Homer Bailey and Josiah Gray – the latter now his Nationals teammate – in a Dec. 21, 2018 trade to the Dodgers for Kyle Farmer, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood. Then on Feb. 10, 2020, he was famously included in the package with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong that went to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts and David Price.

A central piece in two major trades and a highly rated prospect before turning 22 years old, Downs was, surprisingly, exposed to waivers when the Red Sox designated him for assignment last week after signing outfielder Masataka Yoshida. But of course, there’s a reason for that. His struggles in the Red Sox system and during his brief stint in the majors forced Boston to give up on the now 24-year-old.

Now, almost four years to the day since his trade to Los Angeles, Downs joins a Nationals organization where he is reunited with fellow former Dodgers prospects Gray and Keibert Ruiz. And he brings much-needed infield depth, whether he’s on the major league roster or in the minor league system.

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