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On Matt Williams’ approach to spring training

In many ways, Davey Johnson was a players’ manager. One of those ways was that he ran a pretty laid-back spring training, in which early workouts usually were complete well before noon and veterans often weren’t required to go on the long road trips. Things will probably be a bit different under new Nationals manager Matt Williams. Williams said at the Winter Meetings in December

Nats announce 2014 promotional schedule

The Nationals released their 2014 promotional schedule today, which is highlighted by seven (yes, seven) bobblehead giveaways, kids socks, a blanket and a garden gnome featuring the likeness of Jayson Werth. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the garden gnome idea, but I am impressed by the creative concept. You don’t see too many garden gnomes handed out at ballparks these days.

Strasburg sets his personal goals for 2014, plus minor league note

The 2013 season was a big one for Stephen Strasburg in a few ways. Obviously, it was the first time Strasburg had pitched a full season in the big leagues, a milestone that he had a right to be proud of. Despite a couple of injuries that caused him to miss a few starts along the way, Strasburg still hit the 30-start mark and finished

One possible late addition to the bench (Tracy signs with Angels)

When assessing the depth on the Nationals’ roster at this point, there’s one area where it seems that the team is lacking a proven backup option - the corner infield spots. Yes, Tyler Moore will enter spring competing for a spot on the 25-man roster, and he can back up Adam LaRoche at first base. Yes, Ryan Zimmerman will be asked to play a little

Detwiler’s mindset: I’ve won a rotation spot before, I can do it again

If Ross Detwiler had his choice, I’m sure he’d prefer to walk in on day one of spring training and know that a spot in the Nationals starting rotation was being set aside just for him. Detwiler isn’t scared of a little competition, but if the options are having a starting spot with your name written on it or needing to battle for that spot,

Gio Gonzalez and Jorge Posada: An unlikely offseason tandem

Some pitchers use their old high school or college teammates as their catcher during offseason bullpen sessions. Some pitchers throw to their fathers during the winter. Others strap their personal trainers up in catching gear and have them on the receiving end of a few dozen fastballs. Gio Gonzalez has recruited someone with slightly better credentials to catch his offseason bullpen sessions: former Yankees catcher

More from Espinosa on his struggles in 2013 and optimism for 2014

Of all the interviews that were conducted at NatsFest yesterday, if I was asked which was the most interesting, I’m pretty sure Danny Espinosa’s 10-minute chat with reporters would take the cake. We got a lot of updates on throwing programs, a lot of offseason workout updates. But as always, Espinosa was brutally honest in his session with reporters, and provided some interesting information on

Final notes and quotes from NatsFest

The Nationals announced that more than 8,400 people showed up today at NatsFest. Hope everyone who did had a blast. Unfortunately, as is almost always the case with these events, I was pretty much stashed away in a media work room, making the walk from the interview area to my laptop and then back to the interview area. Wish I could’ve seen more of the

Strasburg’s rehab complete, plus arbitration notes on Clippard and Fister

While Bryce Harper still has a little ways to go in his rehab from offseason knee surgery, Stephen Strasburg’s rehab is complete following a surgical procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow back in October. Strasburg says that he went through a brief six-week rehab period following the surgery, but that he’s now back to his normal offseason routine. As a result, he

Espinosa: “If I can get a fair opportunity to win my job, I feel I can do it”

Back at the Winter Meetings in December, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo suggested that Danny Espinosa could become a solid backup middle infielder this season, largely because of his defensive abilities at shortstop and second base. Today, Espinosa said that Rizzo and new Nats manager Matt Williams have both told him that he’ll get a chance to compete with Anthony Rendon for the Nationals’ starting

Harper unsure if he’ll be 100 percent when camp begins

Bryce Harper says that he’s been making solid progress in his recovery from offseason surgery to debride and repair the bursa sac in his left knee, but it sounds like there’s a chance that he won’t be full strength when spring training begins. Harper says that he’s rehabbing the knee three times a week at this point and he’s at week 12 or 13 in

Rizzo on Balfour, bullpen, arbitration negotiations and more

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just met with reporters for nearly 10 minutes here at NatsFest, and covered a wide range of topics related to the Nats’ roster and remaining offseason pursuits. Rizzo said that while the Nats are still open to upgrading their roster in any way that will improve the club, members of the front office aren’t necessarily actively seeking to make more

Tyler Moore: “I’m definitely gonna have to earn what I’m gonna get”

I’m all set up here at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for NatsFest 2014, and this place is already hopping. Fans have swarmed this enormous building and there’s red everywhere. The fact that it’s January and the temperatures are in the 20s doesn’t seem to be dampening enthusiasm about the Nationals or baseball at all. Players will be rolling through the media room

Cole, Goodwin, Skole among 18 non-roster invitees to Nats spring training

The Nationals today released a list of 18 non-roster invitees to big league spring training, players that are not on the team’s 40-man roster, but will be given a chance to work out at major league camp. Many of the names on the list we already knew, due to the Nats signing these players to minor league deals that offered spring training invitations. But other

Notes on Giolito and Cole, plus final NatsFest reminders

Two Nationals prospects have been named to MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list for 2014: right-handers Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole. Giolito (the 16th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft) ranks 44th on the list, one spot behind his former high school teammate and good buddy Max Freed, who was the seventh overall pick by the Padres in 2012. On the standard 20-80 scouting

A couple more pitchers come off the market (Balfour to Rays)

You might have wanted the Nationals to make a final offseason splash by signing Japanese free agent starter Masahiro Tanaka. It wasn’t going to happen, especially not when Tanaka was getting a seven-year, $155 million offer from the Yankees, an offer that Tanaka accepted yesterday. Tanaka was going to land a monster contract from some team that had a big hole in its rotation, but

A couple of quick morning notes

Want to hear a cool fact about reliever Clay Hensley, who signed a minor league deal with the Nationals yesterday that includes an invitation to big league spring training? Hensley was the pitcher who served up Barry Bonds’ 755th career home run, which tied Bonds with Hank Aaron for the most homers of all time. OK, so that fact might not be so “cool” to

Nats sign right-hander Clay Hensley to minor league deal

The Nationals have added more bullpen depth, agreeing today with right-handed reliever Clay Hensley on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. Hensley, 34, last pitched in the big leagues in 2012, when he posted a 4.62 ERA in 60 games spanning 50 2/3 innings. Last year, Hensley split his time on a mound between the independent Sugar Land Skeeters

Take your pick

Three weeks from tomorrow, I’ll board a flight to Orlando, hop in my rental car and drive to Space Coast Stadium, ready to kick off spring training. While the offseason has seemed like it’s crawled by in some respects, it’s also weird to think that my six weeks living out of a hotel in Melbourne, Fla., are almost here. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to

Could another closer be joining Nats’ bullpen?

The Nationals already have a bullpen that features three relievers who have saved at least 32 games in a season. Could they be targeting one more? FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Nationals are “in the mix” for reliever Grant Balfour, the 36-year-old Australian who saved 38 games for the Athletics last season and has posted an ERA lower than 2.60 each of the

Lannan lands back in the NL East

John Lannan has now been a part of three big league organizations. All three reside in the National League East. Lannan signed a minor league deal with the Mets yesterday, the team announced. The deal includes an invitation to big league spring training. The Long Island native and former Nationals starter will now hope to land a spot in the Mets’ starting rotation in spring

And then there were two

The Nationals had a whopping 10 players eligible for arbitration this offseason, leaving assistant general manager Bryan Minniti, general manager Mike Rizzo and others with quite a lengthy to-do list when it came to finalizing contracts with these players for 2014 and possibly beyond. Minniti, Rizzo and company checked off most of the items on that list within the last handful of weeks, agreeing to

Nats sign Desmond to two-year deal, Ramos and Blevins to one-year deals

The Nationals have agreed to terms with shortstop Ian Desmond on a two-year, $17.5 million deal, according to a source familiar with the contract, which buys out Desmond’s last two years of arbitration. The deal is very similar to the one agreed to earlier today by Jordan Zimmermann. Both players now have set salaries for 2014 and 2015, and the Nats still hope to finalize

Zimmermann on potential for long-term deal with Nats: “It’s always a possibility”

The Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann agreed to a two-year, $24 million contract today, a deal that buys out Zimmermann’s final two arbitration years and locks him in at salaries of $7.5 million for this year and $16.5 million for 2015. But before that deal was even discussed, Zimmermann and the Nationals talked about a long-term deal. During a phone conversation this afternoon, Zimmermann described those

Nats reach two-year deal with Zimmermann, one-year deal with Storen

The Nationals have agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, a source confirmed late this morning. The deal does not extend the length that the Nationals control Zimmermann, but it effectively buys out Zimmermann’s final two years of arbitration and provides him a set salary through the 2015 season. Zimmermann will make $7.5 million in 2014 and $16.5 million in 2015,

Some of this, some of that

In case you missed it late last night, the Nationals agreed to terms with Ross Detwiler on a contract for the 2014 season, one that will pay the left-hander $3 million with a chance to earn $50,000 more if he throws 180 innings. That leaves seven arbitration-eligible Nats players without contracts at this point: Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos, Drew

Nats avoid arbitration, agree to terms with Ross Detwiler (updated)

The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Ross Detwiler on a contract for the 2014 season, avoiding salary arbitration. Per the New York Post, Detwiler will make $3 million this season, with a $50,000 bonus if he reaches 180 innings. Update: A source familiar with the contract confirms that Detilwer will make $3 million this season, a raise over the $2.34 million he made

MLB clubs approve expanded instant replay (plus Henry Rodriguez note)

All 30 Major League clubs have approved expanded instant replay, which will be in effect for the 2014 regular season, as well as the postseason. Both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association have also given their consent to the game’s new instant replay protocols. Not only is the list of plays subject to review now longer, but managers will have

How Kershaw’s deal might impact Zimmermann

We now live in a world in which a major league player will make more than $30 million per season. Despite that remarkable fact, you won’t find many people around baseball who feel the Dodgers overpaid yesterday when they gave left-hander Clayton Kershaw a seven-year, $215 million deal, one that is far and away the richest contract for a pitcher in major league history. Kershaw’s

Nationals extend affiliation with Double-A Harrisburg

The Nationals this afternoon announced that they have extended their affiliation with Double-A Harrisburg for four more years through the 2018 season. “Our partnership with Harrisburg and the Senators dates back more than 20 years, and it is with that history in mind that we are excited to sign on with them for another four,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a team-issued release.

Update on Nats’ eight remaining arbitration-eligible players

Eight Nationals players filed for salary arbitration last night, bringing us closer to the deadline for players and the team to reach terms on a contract for the 2014 season. Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos, Drew Storen and Jordan Zimmermann all officially filed for arbitration, which really was a procedural move. They had all been tendered contracts for

One area Harper should look to improve in 2014

Bryce Harper has done some pretty impressive things early in his major league career. Not many players can say that they hit 42 home runs and posted an OPS higher than .830 over their first two big league seasons. Harper did that before turning 21, and he did it while spending the first month of his rookie season in the minors and then missing significant

Assessing the candidates for the final spot in the Nats’ rotation

Yesterday was quite a day of television. Two NFL Divisional Round playoff games, a very interesting “60 Minutes” episode that featured a piece on Alex Rodriguez’s alleged PED usage (I guess we still have to say “alleged,” even though Rodriguez might be the only person left on the planet who doesn’t believe he took PEDs), and then the Golden Globes. I’m usually not a big

Despite down 2013, Hairston still holds value

When discussing the Nationals’ bench options for this upcoming season, I’ve heard a few people take casual shots at Scott Hairston, saying that they don’t see much of a place for Hairston in 2014. That’s only natural, I guess; not only do we live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of world, but fans in this area have yet to see Hairston have much success in a

Answering a question on Strasburg, plus a NatsFest update

Yesterday’s news that the Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with right-hander Stephen Strasburg, avoiding arbitration, led to some discussion on Twitter and in the comment section of the blog on the $3.975 salary the pitcher will receive in 2014. Some readers felt that Strasburg’s salary for this upcoming season was a bit low and that the Nationals should have offered him a

Nats agree to terms with Stephen Strasburg, avoiding arbitration

The Nationals announced tonight that they’ve agreed to terms with right-hander Stephen Strasburg, avoiding arbitration. It’s a one-year deal for Strasburg, which really just serves as a procedural move. The 25-year-old is under team control through the 2016 season, but through the arbitration process, his yearly salaries over the remainder of his deal will be negotiated between his agent and the Nats, with a hearing

One spring competition just got a lot more interesting

As of yesterday morning, Danny Espinosa was the clear favorite to land a job as the Nationals’ reserve middle infielder this spring. He and Zach Walters (eight career major league at-bats) were the only middle infielders on the Nats’ 40-man roster behind Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon. Former Rays and Tigers second baseman Will Rhymes was also an option, after the 30-year-old re-signed with the

Nats sign infielder Jamey Carroll to minor league deal (Nats sign Fontenot)

The Nationals have added more depth to their infield, signing Jamey Carroll to a minor league deal, a source confirms. The contract is not finalized yet, but it will include an invitation to big league spring training, per the source. Carroll, who will turn 40 next month, has played in 12 big league seasons and has experience playing second base, third base and shortstop. He

Entering 2014, who’s the most indispensable National?

A former Nationals hurler has joined the Braves organization, giving Atlanta added depth in the lefty relief department. Atahualpa Severino, who played his first seven professional seasons in the Nationals organization and made six appearances with the Nats at the big league level in 2011, has signed a minor league deal with the Braves, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Severino posted a 3.86 ERA

Maddux, Glavine and Thomas to be inducted into Hall of Fame

In a year with a pretty loaded ballot, three players have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 2014 class: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Craig Biggio, who had 3,060 hits over the course of his career, 21st most in major league history, got 74.8 percent of the vote, coming up just 0.2 percent - or two votes

A big cat and a big day for baseball

This morning, I present to you: Adam LaRoche with a mountain lion draped over his shoulders. Can’t say I ever expected to write that sentence. Back from his trip abroad as part of the USO Holiday Tour, LaRoche has returned to his normal offseason tricks. Some guys spend day after day hitting the links during the baseball offseason. Some guys take vacations to exotic destinations.

MASN announces Nationals spring training broadcast schedule (with note)

It’s just a little bit chilly outside (have you heard that temperatures are pretty low today?), but I’ve got something that might help warm you up. With the start of spring training games now less than two months away, MASN has announced its Nationals spring training broadcast schedule. The network will air six live games, all of which will be played at Space Coast Stadium

Cedeno one intriguing reliever to watch in spring

With the Nationals’ lack of depth when it comes to left-handed relief, Xavier Cedeno was already going to be someone to watch in spring training given the way he performed at the big league level down the stretch last season. But after spending the bulk of this offseason pitching for Cangrejeros de Santurce of the Puerto Rican winter league, Cedeno looks like even more of

Tough decisions lie ahead in future offseasons

If it seems like it’s been a long time since the Nationals have made an addition to their 40-man roster, well, it’s because it’s been a long time since the Nationals have made an addition to their 40-man roster. Simple enough reason, I guess. The Nats acquired left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins in a trade with the Athletics on Dec. 11, then officially signed outfielder Nate

Updates on a couple of former Nationals

Tony Plush is trying to return to the big leagues, and Joel Hanrahan is trying to pick up where he left off prior to elbow sugery. Nyjer Morgan, the talkative former Nationals, Brewers and Pirates center fielder who went by the nickname “Tony Plush,” is attempting to land a major league contract after spending the 2013 season playing in Japan, his agent told ESPN.com. Morgan

A few quick Harper notes

The internet seemed to be abuzz yesterday when quotes from Bryce Harper ran in an ESPN.com story about how players try to bulk up during the offseason in order to combat the natural weight loss that occurs during a season. “I want to go into spring training about 240, 245 (lbs.),” Harper said in the story. “I’ll lose about 20 pounds during the season.” Various

A deeper look into Span’s effect on Nats’ 2013 results

This is the point in the offseason when hard news is sometimes tough to come by. While there are still a handful of quality free agents out there on the market (Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, A.J. Burnett, Grant Balfour, etc.) and there are some big contracts that have yet to be handed out, many teams

Which Nats starter is most likely to win the Cy Young in 2014?

After watching a beautiful snow-filled NHL Winter Classic game yesterday that dramatically ended in a shootout, count me among those who are pumped about next year’s Winter Classic in D.C. The Capitals will host the NHL’s signature event next year, and according to multiple reports, the Winter Classic will be held at Nationals Park, which is viewed as the best option in the D.C. area

Changes in a new year

Well, hey there, folks. I got back from my trip to Europe just in time to ring in 2014 in style, and we’ve now got a brand new calendar to kick off with less than six weeks separating us from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. It’ll be here before we know it, I’m sure. Hope everyone had a great holiday season as well

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