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Saying goodbye to LaRoche and Soriano (updated with 40-man roster moves)

We’ve assumed for a while now that Denard Span would be back with the Nationals next season, with his $9 million being a relative bargain after the excellent 2014 campaign put up by the center fielder. It’s now official. Span’s club option was picked up by the Nats yesterday, ensuring that Span will return for 2015. The club will retain its leadoff hitter and its

Nats exercise 2015 option on Span, decline options on LaRoche and Soriano

The Nationals have exercised their $9 million club option on center fielder Denard Span for the 2015 season, Span confirmed this afternoon in a text message. “Very excited about returning,” Span said. The Nationals also announced that they have declined to exercise the options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and right-hander Rafael Soriano. Both will become free agents. The decision to pick up Span’s option

The offseason begins

There are a few things that I can’t believe as of this morning. I can’t believe Madison Bumgarner is actually a human being, and not, in fact, a machine. Bumgarner’s five-inning save in Game 7 last night left him with a ridiculous 52 2/3 innings of work this postseason, with a 1.03 ERA in that time. His career World Series ERA is now 0.25. How

Game 7 memories

Tonight, we will get to witness one of my favorite things in all of sports - a Game 7. I love Game 7s regardless of when they occur or what sport they come in. A Game 7 in the NHL playoffs is thrilling to me. A Game 7 in baseball’s League Championship Series, with a spot in the Fall Classic awaiting the winner, is pretty

Ohlendorf elects free agency after being outrighted off 40-man

Veteran right-hander Ross Ohlendorf has elected free agency after being activated off the 60-day disabled list by the Nationals and subsequently outrighted off their 40-man roster. Ohlendorf was a solid contributor to the Nats pitching staff in 2013, going 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 16 appearances (seven starts). The club ended up avoiding arbitration with the now 32-year-old by signing him to a one-year,

A trade that quietly reaped benefits

When assessing the roster moves made by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo that made a major impact on the Nats’ division title, a couple jump out at you. The trade that brought Asdrubal Cabrera over just before the non-waiver trade deadline gave the Nationals an experienced infielder who delivered a number of clutch hits and played a smooth second base. The waiver claim that added

Some of this, some of that

The baseball world was hit with some awful news yesterday, as Cardinals prospect Oscar Tavares and his girlfriend were killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Tavares was just 22, and only two weeks ago, he hit a game-tying home run late in Game 2 of the Cardinals’ National League Championship Series against the Giants, leading to an eventual St. Louis win.

Taking a look at the relief options

Yesterday, I discussed the Nationals bullpen, and how they could look to add to that already strong group this offseason, either via free agency or a trade. The Nats have plenty of talented arms in their system, but that’s certainly an area where you can never have enough talent. And don’t be shocked if the Nats do choose to bolster their relief corps this offseason.

Taking a look at the ‘pen

One thing that I’ve really taken note of this postseason is how a couple of teams with dominant back ends of their bullpen have really been able to shorten games in their favor and turn a one-run lead after six innings into a fairly comfortable victory. We’ve seen it time after time with the Royals, who have relied on Kelvin Herrera in the seventh inning,

Nats announce front office promotions, expansion of analytics department

The Nationals announced a few changes to their front office today, including the expansion of their baseball research and development department. Adam Cromie, the Nats’ director of baseball operations, will keep that title but has also been promoted, getting the title of assistant general manager. Sam Mondry-Cohen was promoted to director of baseball research and development after previously serving as the Nats’ manager of baseball

Minniti joins D-backs, Zimmermann keeps improving

Bryan Minniti has found a new home, as the Diamondbacks have announced that the former Nationals front office man has joined Arizona’s organization as an assistant general manager. Minniti spent the last five years with the Nats as an assistant GM under Mike Rizzo, before announcing that he was leaving the organization just a few days after the Nats were knocked out of the postseason.

LaRoche, Span named Gold Glove finalists

For the third straight year, the Nationals have two players named finalists for Rawlings Gold Gloves. This time, it’s Adam LaRoche and Denard Span. LaRoche was selected as one of three finalists among National League first basemen, along with the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez and the Rockies’ Justin Morneau. The 34-year-old LaRoche won his first Gold Glove in 2012. This season, he posted a .994 fielding

Reflecting on Roark’s stellar 2014

In 2012, Tanner Roark lost 17 games at Triple-A Syracuse. In 2013, Roark pitched well at Syracuse, made his way to the big leagues for the first time in his career and posted a stellar 1.51 ERA in 14 games, split between the bullpen and rotation. In 2014, Roark became arguably the best fifth starter in the majors. Roark’s rise from frustrated minor leaguer to

Storen bounces back in a big way (Rendon on Sporting News NL All-Star team)

Until last night, the Royals had been a perfect 8-0 in this year’s postseason. They’d thrived largely because of their speed and dominant back end of their bullpen. So how do you beat them? Keep them off the bases, and don’t let Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland play any type of factor in the ballgame. The Giants kept on rolling last night, thanks

Williams voted Sporting News NL Manager of the Year

The league-endorsed end-of-season awards, voted on by the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, won’t be announced until November. Matt Williams could find himself taking home the National League Manager of the Year award at that time. For now, Williams will add another award to his mantle courtesy of the Sporting News, which announced that Williams was voted its NL Manager of the

Rendon’s 2014 season a sign of things to come

It’s easy to forget how young Anthony Rendon is, both in terms of age and how little big league experience he possesses. You watch Rendon play the game and you assume that he’s an established veteran. He’s immensely talented, never gets frazzled or visibly upset and seemingly keeps the same heart rate at all times, regardless of how intense a situation he’s in. He appears

Fister’s first season in D.C. a major success

This weekend just felt weird. After baseball being so much of a focus of my daily life for the past eight-plus months, to go an entire weekend without watching any baseball whatsoever was a bit bizarre. Luckily, we only have to go one more day before the World Series kicks off between the Giants and Royals in what should be an entertaining battle between two

Examining the free agent second base options

Asdrubal Cabrera has said that he would like to return to the Nationals and that he would even be willing to play second base if he does re-sign in D.C., despite the fact that he would prefer to play shortstop. The Nats, given the right circumstances and contract terms, would surely like Cabrera back, as well. He played well during his two months with the

Rotation likely to return intact

The Nationals have a busy offseason ahead of them on a number of fronts. They’ll need to decide what they want to do with their starting second base job, assuming that Ryan Zimmerman moves across the diamond and becomes the everyday first baseman and Anthony Rendon remains at third. They’ll need to add to their bullpen (which will almost certainly be without Rafael Soriano next

On Harper’s finish to 2014

The National League Division Series obviously didn’t go as the Nationals hoped. The team didn’t perform as well as many, including those inside the clubhouse, expected it to. Many players didn’t play to their ability levels. And they will openly admit as much. Despite the disappointment from a team perspective, there were a couple of positives from that series, however. And Bryce Harper was one

The recipe for postseason success

Like the Nationals, the Orioles are now done for 2014, heading home after a tremendous season and a sweep at the hands of the Royals in the American League Championship Series. It means that both local teams, despite tremendous 96-win regular seasons and division titles, saw their postseason run end in heartbreak. And in reality, that’s the way it goes for 29 of the 30

Looking back on Nats’ late-season roster additions

It might be easy to forget now, given that the Nationals were knocked out of the postseason in the National League Division Series and have spent the last week reflecting on how everything quickly came to an end, but Mike Rizzo and his staff had a very successful six-day stretch from late July to early August that played a major role in the Nats’ success.

On pace of play during the postseason

Forgive me for covering a non-Nationals related topic in my blog post this morning, but with both League Championship Series set to hold Game 3 today, I wanted to bring up something that has been on my mind lately. Clearly, I love the game of baseball. Have since I was a kid. I spent somewhere around 20 full days of my life watching baseball in

Span’s 2015 team option now looking like a bargain

Going into the 2014 season, some debated whether it might be Denard Span’s final campaign with the Nationals. Span had signed a five-year, $16.5 million contract back with the Twins in 2010, a deal that included a $9 million club option for 2015. The Nationals acquired the speedy center fielder in the winter leading up to the 2013 season, giving them at least two years

Who do you want to win it all?

The last few days likely haven’t been easy on Nationals fans, as the harsh reality that postseason baseball is continuing without your team has probably started to set in. Yesterday might have been especially tough for many of you. We had action in both League Championship Series yesterday, with the Orioles falling to the Royals for the second time in as many days and the

Assistant GM Bryan Minniti leaving organization

As the Nationals get set to upgrade their roster this offseason, trying to add players that can help them return to the postseason and push past the National League Division Series for the first time in team history, they will also see some changes in their front office. Assistant general manager Bryan Minniti has announced that he will be leaving the Nationals after five years

Asdrubal Cabrera: “I would love to stay here”

This trading deadline, we saw Cy Young award winner David Price get dealt to the Tigers. The Red Sox shipped stud left-hander Jon Lester to the A’s for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Martin Prado, John Lackey, Allen Craig, Gerardo Parra and Andrew Miller were also part of deals this July 31. It was a busy trade deadline, one in which the Nationals’ acquisition of infielder Asdrubal

Evaluating the last three years isn’t so easy

Over the last three years, the Nationals have won 280 regular season games, most in the major leagues during that time. In 2012, they picked up 98 wins, the most in the game, and earned their first National League East title since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005. In 2013, even in a year that was considered a bust in Davey Johnson’s “World Series or

Bats go quiet at the worst time

For much of the regular season, especially the second half of the 2014 campaign, the Nationals were a team that got balanced offensive production throughout their lineup. This wasn’t a team that was carried by one or two players from an offensive perspective. Despite the fact that the Nats finished with 96 wins, the most in the National League, they don’t have a clear-cut MVP

Nats express disappointment after season-ending 3-2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO - They sure made things interesting. From earning the best record in the National League to Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the regular season, the Nationals became, to many, the team to watch in the postseason. Who could beat their pitching staff, a rotation in which the postseason’s odd man out pitched to a 2.85 ERA during the regular season?

Williams meets the media after Nats are ousted from playoffs

The 96 victories the Nationals amassed this year, the 17-game bulge over the Braves in the National League East, all the hopes and dreams of a deeper run than in the 2012 postseason - all evaporated Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The Giants advance to face the Cardinals in the National League

Nats’ season ends with 3-2 loss in Game 4

SAN FRANCISCO - Seven Giants hitters came to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. Only one hit the ball out of the infield. And San Francisco has a 2-0 lead. Gio Gonzalez could have had an inning-ending double play on Juan Perez’s tapper back to the mound with one on and one out, but he couldn’t handle the slow roller which had

Strasburg available in relief tonight, Nats’ Game 5 starter still TBA

SAN FRANCISCO - Giants manager Bruce Bochy said today that all his pitchers are available for tonight’s Game 4 of the National League Division Series - even Jake Peavy, who would otherwise be tabbed as San Francisco’s Game 5 starter. Nationals skipper Matt Williams will go with the same everyone-is-available approach. Williams said this afternoon that he is not ready to announce his Game 5

Clippard and Williams praise Harper’s growth, performance

SAN FRANCISCO - Hear Bryce Harper’s name and you probably think of a guy who’s been around the league for a while. He’s been talked about by national writers for several years and compared to many past and present greats. Heck, he’s even been edited into a commercial with footage of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. However, what some may forget is that Harper is

Nats run out same lineup for Game 4

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals are running out the same lineup as they did in the first three games of this series. No changes from one through eight in Game 4. The Giants, however, are going with a new left fielder - right-handed-hitting Juan Perez - against left-hander Gio Gonzalez, and they’ve bumped third baseman Pablo Sandoval down to the No. 5 spot in the

Looking for another win by the bay

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have life. Their clubhouse after yesterday’s Game 3 win was brimming with energy. Now they turn the ball over to their most energetic starting pitcher. After yesterday’s dramatic victory, Gio Gonzalez now gets the ball for the Nats today in their second straight must-win ballgame. The left-hander hasn’t started a game in 12 days, but with their season on the

The break they’ve been waiting for

SAN FRANCISCO - As the ball got past Pablo Sandoval’s outstretched glove hand and trickled down the left field line, multiple Nationals knew that moment could be it. It could be the momentum-shifter, the play that they had been looking for. “I mentioned it yesterday, that we just need one break,” reliever Drew Storen said. “It’s been a tough couple games here to start. And

Hearing from Williams after Nats’ win in NLDS Game 3

Say this about Nationals manager Matt Williams: He’s immensely even-keeled regardless of the situation. It’s hard to tell if he’s eight runs up or eight runs down just by looking at the expression on his face. In his postgame meeting with the media following the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Williams was his typical focused

Fister dominates Giants to keep Nationals’ playoff hopes alive

SAN FRANCISCO - Win or pack your bags, head home and prepare for a long offseason. That’s the situation the Nationals found themselves in today, trailing the Giants two games to none in the best-of-five National League Division Series. Doug Fister chose to stay in San Francisco another day. The right-hander took the mound at AT&T Park in a do-or-die game and did what he

Nats live to see another day with 4-1 win in Game 3

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals said coming into San Francisco that if they just played their game and got a break or two along the way, that they could very easily come back to win this series. They might have just gotten that break. Madison Bumgarner’s throwing error on a Wilson Ramos sacrifice bunt led to two runs, and the Nats tacked on an additional

A scoreless ballgame through five

SAN FRANCISCO - Doug Fister’s command hasn’t been there early on. But he’s thrown two scoreless innings, keeping this game knotted at zeros as we go to the third. Fister has needed 43 pitches to get through two, including 27 in the second inning, when the Giants loaded the bases on a Pablo Sandoval single to left-center and two walks. That brought up Giants starter

Williams on lineup stability: “We trust our guys, we have faith in our guys”

SAN FRANCISCO - Constructing a lineup when you’re down two games to none in a best-of-five series isn’t easy. You might want to shake things up a bit, find a way to inject some life into your team, especially when the lineup you’ve gone with in Games 1 and 2 has only scored three total runs and is batting .160 to this point. But you

Matt Williams: Facing elimination, “all hands are on deck”

SAN FRANCISCO - In the their historic playoff game Saturday - that spilled into Sunday - the Nationals emptied their bullpen. Tanner Roark, a starter through the season, was the last man up and surrendered a solo shot to Brandon Belt that led to a 2-1 Giants win in 18 innings. A tired team then flew to San Francisco early Sunday morning to prepare for

Nats going without Zimmerman in Game 3 lineup

SAN FRANCISCO - After the Nationals scored just three runs in the first two games of the National League Division Series, Matt Williams is running out the same lineup again for Game 3. That means no Ryan Zimmerman, who Williams said he would consider adding to the lineup against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco’s Game 3 starter. Zimmerman has not played third base since

Preaching patience at the plate

SAN FRANCISCO - There’s been a lot of attention put on Matt Williams’ decision to take Jordan Zimmermann out in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series in favor of Drew Storen. Williams’ plan didn’t go as he had hoped, the Nationals’ 1-0 lead evaporated, and they ended up losing 2-1 in 18 innings. Some fans and media members also

Moving on from the marathon

SAN FRANCISCO - Postseason losses can be tough to deal with. Postseason losses in 18-inning games can be brutal. Postseason losses that put you down 0-2 in a five-game series can be torturous. But the Nationals say they’re moving on from last night’s 2-1 loss to the Giants, a loss that left them another defeat away from elimination. They hopped on busses for the airport

Williams on decision in ninth: “I kicked myself ... but we have a reason for that move”

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have the day off in the sense that they don’t have a game to play today. They will get the afternoon and evening to acclimate themselves to the Pacific time zone and to get a bit of a breather before tomorrow’s Game 3. They do have an optional workout here at AT&T Park, however, and Matt Williams was impressed with

Nats now viewing NLDS as “a chance to do something special”

SAN FRANCISCO - The flight from D.C. to San Francisco wasn’t as long as that ballgame was last night. After a 6:23 marathon in Game 2, which became the longest game time-wise in Major League Baseball postseason history, the Nationals find themselves in a tough spot, with their backs against the wall. They’ve now dropped the first two of a best-of-five series, and will need

Zimmermann backs Williams’ decision to pull him in ninth inning

Jordan Zimmermann passed the time after he exited in the ninth inning of Saturday night’s Game 2 of the National League Division Series bouncing between the dugout and clubhouse, watching a parade of relievers travel down the tunnel from the field. Since the game lasted 18 innings - at 6 hours, 23 minutes, it was the longest postseason game by time in major league history

Matt Williams after 18-inning loss: “Hindsight is a great thing”

Way back on Saturday afternoon, Jordan Zimmermann started Game 2 of the National League Division Series for the Nationals. Fresh off his no-hitter, the right-hander was dominant again, pitching 8 2/3 innings before Matt Williams decided to go with Drew Storen after Zimmermann walked Joe Panik with two outs in the ninth. “(Zimmermann) got in trouble in the ninth inning. ... We were going to

Desmond could miss postseason action due to birth of son

As Ian Desmond takes part in the National League Division Series, his mind is also with his pregnant wife Chelsey, who is currently in Sarasota, Fla., with her and Desmond’s families. Depending on when Chelsey ends up giving birth to the couple’s third son, Desmond might need to step away from the Nationals’ postseason run to tend to his family. Desmond said prior to Game

Giants-Nationals lineups for Game 2 of NLDS

The only thing that’s changed in the Nationals starting lineup for Game 2 of the National League Series against the Giants is the starting pitcher. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, coming off the team’s first no-hiter since arriving in D.C. from Montreal for the 2005 season, takes the hill to try to square the NLDS at one game apiece. The Giants are going with the same batting

LaRoche’s advice to mates facing Hudson: Get to him early

There are few guarantees in life. Among them are death, taxes, poor life choices by Miley Cyrus and the fact that Giants right-hander Tim Hudson usually has his way with the Nationals. The 39-year-old Hudson has practically enjoyed a stellar season’s worth of stats against the guys with curly Ws on their cap over his 16 big league seasons. He’s 18-5 with a 2.35 ERA

Post no-no, Zimmermann ready for start in Game 2 (with start times)

Six days ago, Jordan Zimmermann delivered the start of his life. He retired 27 of the 28 batters that he faced. He struck out 10. He threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history. Now, the Nationals need the right-hander to put that outing behind him, go out and deal again. Boy, do they need it. I shouldn’t say “put that outing behind him” as if

Desmond can’t hide disappointment after difficult day

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond couldn’t hide the disappointment. Losing the first game of the best-of-five National League Division Series was one thing, but twice failing to come through with runners in scoring position and striking out on both occasions obviously left a bad taste in his mouth. “We were in it the whole way,” he said after the Nats’ 3-2 loss in Game 1 of

Trying to turn the page

The Nationals had the last four days to look ahead to this afternoon’s ballgame. The last two and a half weeks, if you count the time since they clinched the National League East title. They had a couple of days to wonder about whether they would face the Giants or the Pirates, and a couple more to map out how they might match up against

NLDS notebook: Williams on Zimmerman, Porter gets new gig, Morse sits, Hudson retreats

Reading between the lines of Nationals manager Matt Williams’ comments in his media session this morning, Ryan Zimmerman could be pointing toward a start in Game 3 of the National League Division Series when the Giants start left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Zimmerman said yesterday that he is comfortable coming off the bench, and that will be his role today in Game 1. Williams opted to start

Williams discusses roster decisions involving Soriano, Detwiler, Hairston

The Nationals’ starting lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series didn’t feature any surprises. The back end of the team’s 25-man roster might have surprised some. The Nationals opted to put Rafael Soriano on their roster for the NLDS, while Ross Detwiler was left out of the eight-man bullpen. Detwiler had one clunker down the stretch, allowing three runs in an inning

Here’s your Game 1 Nationals lineup (with Giants lineup)

The Nationals lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series looks a lot like the Nationals lineup for the last handful of weeks of the regular season. As expected, Ryan Zimmerman will come off the bench, with Anthony Rendon staying at third base and the Nats’ regular outfield remaining in place. For the GiantsCF Gregor Blanco2B Joe PanikC Buster Posey3B Pablo SandovalRF Hunter

Strasburg ready to deal with the emotion of his first playoff start

Happy postseason, folks. Playoff baseball officially started three days ago. Nationals players and fans have had to wait patiently for their time to come, but we’re now just a few hours away from the start of the National League Division Series and Stephen Strasburg’s first pitch. It won’t just be Strasburg’s first pitch of this postseason, of course. It’ll be the first playoff start of

Bochy on Nats: “They really don’t have a weakness” (with Morse update)

Giants manager Bruce Bochy had nothing but compliments for the Nationals in his Thursday afternoon media session. But that’s what you’d expect from a wise veteran manager who is more interested in preparing his club for the National League Division Series than lighting a fire under the opposition. “They have the best record in the National League,” Bochy said of the Nats. “You know, they

NLDS notebook: Hearing from Ramos, Zimmerman and Williams

Wilson Ramos may play in his first postseason game tomorrow, and could catch right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who will be making his playoff debut in the opening game of the best-of-five National League Division Series. October inexperience aside, Ramos had an interesting response when he was asked this afternoon whether Strasburg was mature enough the the marquee assignment. “That’s a good question, because it’s not easy

Zimmerman on his hamstring: “It keeps feeling better and better each day”

The deeper the Nationals are able to go into the playoffs, the more Ryan Zimmerman’s right hamstring will have a chance to get back to full strength. For now, Zimmerman will have to continue plugging away, hoping he can get healthy as soon as possible and willing to contribute as much as he can prior to that. Zimmerman took part in yesterday’s intrasquad scrimmage at

Nats set rotation for first three games of NLDS (plus more notes)

When the Nationals made the postseason in 2012, right-hander Stephen Strasburg had been shut down for the season after reaching an innings limit in the season following Tommy John surgery. This time around, Strasburg will get the ball for the first postseason game the Nats play. Manager Matt Williams announced this afternoon that Strasburg will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series against

The experience factor

After three days of relative quiet, Nationals Park will open its doors to the media again late this morning, as the Nats will hold their league-mandated workout leading up to the National League Division Series. Nationals players had Monday off, then a heavy workout at the park on Tuesday, followed by an intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday. Those sessions were closed to the public and the

Giants advance to face Nats in NLDS

The Nationals’ opponent in the National League Division Series is finally set. It’ll be the Giants coming to D.C. to face Matt Williams’ ballclub. San Francisco advanced with an 8-0 win over the Piratesin the NL wild card game. Half of those runs came from one Brandon Crawford swing of the bat, as the Giants shortstop crushed a fourth-inning grand slam to put his team

Who do you want - Pirates or Giants?

The postseason is officially under way, and we’ve now reached October. And if what we’re about to see over the next month in any way resembles the drama and excitement we witnessed last night during the American League wild card game, we’ll be in good shape. The Royals pulled out a thriller over the A’s last night, coming back from a four-run deficit in the

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