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Rizzo on shortstop: “We love competition”

This is the last day of the last month without baseball for a long time. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 18 and then it’s on. Barring injury, the Nationals appear set at every position around the diamond. But what about shortstop? With Ian Desmond - though still unsigned - departing in free agency, Danny Espinosa is expected to get his first full-time shot at

Of all the misses this winter, which player would have helped the most?

From a perception standpoint, it hasn’t been a most favorable winter for the Nationals. A dugout brawl between eventual National League MVP Bryce Harper and hothead Jonathan Papelbon in the final days of the season set the stage for piling on. But general manager Mike Rizzo strapped up and went for it, attempting to make a statement that the Nationals were still the big, bad

Joe Ross looking to build on impressive rookie year

During his introductory press conference earlier this month, the new Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy revealed that he pays close attention to the First-Year Player Draft. Murphy, a seven-year veteran, was asked which of his new, younger Nationals teammates stick out most from recent drafts. He chose Joe Ross, a pitcher he recalled from their encounters last season. “Ross was the easy one to remember because

Doug Fister signs one-year deal with Astros (with spring uniform photos)

Free agent right-hander Doug Fister has signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Astros after pitching the last two seasons for the Nationals. Washington acquired Fister from the Tigers in December 2013 in exchange for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-hander Ian Krol and minor league lefty Robbie Ray. Fister became arguably the Nationals’ most effective starter in 2014, going 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and

Max Scherzer aiming to carry no-hit success into 2016

Just over a year ago, Max Scherzer arrived in the nation’s capital with a ton of fanfare and a monumental contract. The former American League Cy Young Award winner then backed it up, becoming just the sixth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season. If not for a bizarre blip in Scherzer’s season during August, the dominant right-hander might have found himself with a

Nationals sign veteran starter Bronson Arroyo to minor league deal

The Nationals added some competition to the mix for their starting rotation when pitchers and catchers report next month by signing Bronson Arroyo to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. Arroyo, who turns 39 on Feb. 24, hasn’t pitched professionally since undergoing Tommy John surgery while with the Diamondbacks in July 2014. During his rehab, the veteran right-hander was

Nationals reportedly interested in veteran starter Bronson Arroyo

Even with the departures of right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister through free agency, the Nationals haven’t been aggressively pursuing starting pitchers this offseason. “I like the rotation as it is,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier this month. “We have a very talented, quality starting rotation.” Rizzo reportedly flirted with righty Mike Leake and left-hander Scott Kazmir before the free agents signed with

You can’t always get what you want

Whether it was a surprise or not, the Nationals chased free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last week before the slugger opted to return to the Mets. The part that was hard to swallow for most Nats fans was why Cespedes chose a three-year deal with New York instead of the five-year offer on the table in Washington. Even more difficult was that the scenario seems

Bryce Harper presented with MVP award (with video)

In November, Bryce Harper became the youngest unanimous Most Valuable Player winner in baseball history, capturing National League honors for his record-breaking season. In a snowy New York City, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America formally presented Harper with the hardware at an awards ceremony on Saturday evening. At 22 years, 335 days old, Harper became the sixth-youngest player in major league history to hit

Yoenis Cespedes chooses Mets over Nats, agreeing to three-year deal

The balance of power in the National League East shifted considerably late Friday as slugger Yoenis Cespedes signed with the Mets over the Nationals. Washington had reportedly offered Cespedes a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million. But according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Cespedes opted for a three-year contract with the Mets worth $75 million that includes an opt-out after the 2016 season. The

If Nats land Yoenis Cespedes, how is Jayson Werth affected?

Last season, the National League East seemingly was decided by one player. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the Mets’ addition of Yoenis Cespedes minutes before the trade deadline completely changed the complexion of their lineup. New York went from a bottom of the barrel offense to pouring in runs behind Cespedes’ violent bat. The Nationals inquired about a trade with

Yo! Are the Nationals serious about Cespedes?

When the Nationals made a serious run at Jason Heyward in December - reportedly offering a $200 million deal to the three-time Gold Glove Award winner - there was clear indication they intended on upgrading the outfield in 2016. There was some chatter about a potential trade with Colorado for Carlos Gonzalez, but not much connected the Nationals to this winter’s other two major free

Nationals reportedly have interest in Yoenis Cespedes

The one-year anniversary of the Nationals shocking the baseball world by signing right-hander Max Scherzer to blockbuster seven-year, $210 million contract just passed. At the time, the deal had many scratching their heads, with the Nats already boasting the National League’s top rotation from top to bottom. Fast-forward to this January and rumors of another free agent signing has left some baffled. USA Today’s Bob

Game times announced for Nationals’ 2016 schedule

You can now officially map out your road trips, plan your holidays and get the excuses ready for your bosses. The Nationals schedule was announced last September, but today Major League Baseball released the game times. The Nationals begin the season in Atlanta on April 4 at 4:10 p.m. Three days later, opening day is celebrated at Nationals Park with a 4:05 p.m. matinee against

Are the Nats looking for a new catcher?

There has been speculation about the Nationals potentially looking to upgrade at catcher this winter. Wilson Ramos, 28, is coming off his most durable season in the majors, but also his least productive at the plate. Ramos slumped to a career-low .229/.258/.358 slash line with 101 strikeouts in 504 plate appearances. He also hit into 16 double plays in 128 games. And despite being named

Oliver Perez likes Nationals’ chances second time around

After starting 195 games from 2002-2010 for three different teams, left-hander Oliver Perez found himself out of the majors. He ended up at Double-A Harrisburg, where Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams made a recommendation that eventually resurrected his career. “Williams talked to me a lot,” Perez said. “I say thanks to him. I know him from the Pirates. He told me, ‘You pitch really good

Deep and healthy, the Nationals outfield appears set

Multiple injuries had the Nationals experimenting in the outfield most of last season. Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson, both career infielders, logged several innings in the outfield for the first time in the majors. Michael A. Taylor was expected to receive more seasoning in the minors. Instead, he ended up as the opening day center fielder and leadoff hitter, and appeared in 138 games. Even

Mike Rizzo: “I think we’ve balanced our lineup”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo finalized salaries for all of his arbitration-eligible players heading into the 2016 season. So the roster is set? Not so fast. Last year’s Nationals headed to Viera, Fla., seemingly with a full roster. Yet, because of widespread injuries, non-roster invitees Clint Robinson and Dan Uggla made the team along with late spring training additions Matt den Dekker and Reed Johnson.

Danny Espinosa, Ben Revere are the last to avoid arbitration with Nationals

The Nationals have agreed to terms with all of their arbitration-eligible players. Infielder Danny Espinosa and outfielder Ben Revere were the final two to settle with the Nationals, both deals coming together late this afternoon. Espinosa, 28, will make $2.875 million while Revere gets $6.25 million in 2016, according to baseball insider Jon Heyman. After combing to hit just .200/.255/.326 from 2013-2014, Espinosa’s offense experienced

Nationals avoid arbitration with Anthony Rendon

The Nationals avoided arbitration with infielder Anthony Rendon today, agreeing to terms on a reported salary of $2.8 million for the 2016 season. MLBTradeRumors.com was first to report earlier this offseason that Rendon was granted an extra year of arbitration after qualifying as a Super Two player. The Nationals have made it clear Rendon will move back to third base in 2016. He started 59

Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere aiming to help Nats get back to division crown

Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere entered 2015 on ballclubs with different outlooks for the season. Murphy’s Mets were seen as on the rise, especially with an assembly of dominant young starters, while Revere’s Phillies figured to battle for last place in the National League East during a rebuilding phase. But neither team was expected to challenge the Nationals, who had been predicted to run away

The eighth-inning picture after Storen’s departure

One of the main downfalls of the Nationals’ disappointing 2015 campaign was the inability to consistently identify an eighth-inning set-up man. A glaring void was left once general manager Mike Rizzo traded reliable reliever Tyler Clippard for infielder Yunel Escobar last offseason. Rizzo opted to sign former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen to bridge the gap until Drew Storen took over in the ninth. Shoulder

Nationals avoid arbitration with Wilson Ramos (Davis and Hill outrighted to Syracuse)

The Nationals avoided arbitration with catcher Wilson Ramos, agreeing to terms on a reported salary of $5.35 million in 2016. Ramos, 28, is entering the final year of his contract with Washington. Injuries limited Ramos to a combined total of 191 games played from 2012-2014. But Ramos avoided the disabled list last season, starting a career-high 123 games behind the plate. Despite his durability, Ramos

MASN to broadcast seven Nationals spring training games

With pitchers and catchers reporting in 36 days, spring training is nearing for the Nationals. MASN announced today it will broadcast seven Nationals games during the 2016 Grapefruit League season, beginning with a March 10 home contest against the Astros at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. The Astros, the winner of the American League wild card game, are one of four matchups against 2015

Strasburg, Rendon among five Nats filing for arbitration, plus lineup discussion

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder Ben Revere, and infielders Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa were among the 156 major leaguers filing for salary arbitration on Tuesday. Of those five players, Strasburg and Ramos are approaching the final year of their contracts with the Nationals. Catcher Jose Lobaton and first baseman/left fielder Tyler Moore would have been eligible for arbitration, but both agreed to

Ben Revere looking to rack up RBIs for Bryce Harper and crew

Before Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo acquired outfielder Ben Revere in a trade with the Blue Jays for reliever Drew Storen on Friday night, the main offensive question skipper Dusty Baker faced was who to place at the top of his batting order. Revere’s arrival in Washington solves that issue. “He’s hit at the top of the lineup each stage of his career,” Rizzo said.

Ben Revere talks defense

One of the knocks on Ben Revere is his defense or lack thereof. Mostly, the criticism begins with his arm strength. It was something Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo addressed with the media hours after acquiring Revere and a player to be named later from the Blue Jays for reliever Drew Storen and cash. “He’s a good defensive center fielder with a short-throwing arm, a

Is shortstop Danny Espinosa’s job to lose?

The Nationals infield will have a much different look when opening day rolls around in 81 days. Ian Desmond and Yunel Escobar have been subtracted, Anthony Rendon moves to third and reigning National League Championship Series MVP Daniel Murphy takes over at second. Barring injuries, those starters - along with Ryan Zimmerman at first base - are guarantees. But what about shortstop? Danny Espinosa figures

Mike Rizzo supports Jonathan Papelbon: “He brings a swagger to the bullpen”

On Thursday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was asked about the latest on right-handers Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon, two back end relievers with volatile endings to their seasons. Both reportedly had been shopped since October with no movement. “I think we’re in the same place that we’ve always been,” Rizzo said following Daniel Murphy’s introductory press conference. “If there’s a baseball trade that makes

Mike Rizzo reacts after trading Drew Storen for Ben Revere

Following a highly disappointing 2015 campaign and facing the loss of several veteran free agents, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was forced to change the complexion of the roster. Finding a leadoff hitter - preferably a left-handed swinging outfielder - and reconstructing the bullpen were high on Rizzo’s winter wish list. In a trade with the Blue Jays late last night, Rizzo addressed both by

Mike Rizzo finds speedy leadoff hitter in trade for Ben Revere

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was serious about adding a starting outfielder all offseason. He positioned the Nationals into finalists for All-Star Jason Heyward - reportedly making a highly competitive offer - before the three-time Gold Glove Award winner signed a $184 million contract with the Cubs last month. Several other trades and free agents were also discussed. But as late as Thursday, Rizzo remained

Nationals trade Drew Storen to Blue Jays for Ben Revere

Barely 24 hours after Denard Span signed with the Giants, the Nationals have found his replacement. The Nats announced late tonight that they dealt right-hander Drew Storen and cash considerations to the Blue Jays for speedy outfielder Ben Revere and a player to be named. Revere slashed .306/.342/.377 with 22 doubles, seven triples, two homers, 84 runs scored and 31 stolen bases in 152 games

Former Marlins GM Dan Jennings joins Nationals front office

The Nationals have made another move, adding from a division rival. This time, it’s off the field, as former Marlins general manager and manager Dan Jennings is joining the Nationals front office as a special assistant to president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo. Jennings will focus on all facets of scouting operations for the Nationals, according to a team-issued release. Jennings, 55,

Denard Span says goodbye: “DC will always feel like home”

Denard Span is the latest Nationals free agent to officially leave Washington this offseason, signing a three-year, $31 million deal with the Giants on Thursday night. Span became one of the most beloved Nationals after arriving in D.C. in a trade with the Twins prior to the 2013 season. Over the last three years, Span slashed .292/.345/.404 as the catalyst of the Nationals lineup while

Mets’ loss is Nats’ gain with Daniel Murphy

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has known Daniel Murphy for many of the wrong reasons over the past seven seasons. Murphy has been one of the toughest outs for Nationals pitchers as a member of the Mets since making his major league debut in 2007. So by signing Murphy, Rizzo has not only bolstered the Nats roster, but also damaged the division rival Mets lineup.

Denard Span inks three-year deal with Giants

If the Nationals add another outfielder this offseason, it won’t be Denard Span. The Giants announced this evening they reached a three-year deal with Span, one reportedly worth $31 million, pending a physical. Span had been the Nationals’ center fielder and leadoff hitter since coming to Washington in a trade with Minnesota before the 2013 season. Speaking earlier today following a press conference introducing new

Will Daniel Murphy’s postseason home run derby carry into 2016?

Over his seven seasons, Daniel Murphy has been known as one of the best contact hitters in the majors. He struck out just 38 times in 538 plate appearances in 2015 while batting .281 last season. But after averaging nine homers per season from 2009-2014, Murphy launched 14 longballs last year. Then came a postseason power surge, with Murphy smacking seven homers, including one in

A deep bench is imperative for Dusty Baker

In a week filled with playoff hype for the Redskins, the Nationals will take a slice of the attention today with a press conference - carried live at noon on MASN and MASNsports.com - introducing new second baseman Daniel Murphy. While Murphy, the reigning National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player, represents the biggest offseason acquisition so far, general manager Mike Rizzo has also been

Nats officially announce deals with Daniel Murphy, Stephen Drew

The Nationals announced this afternoon that they have finalized a three-year contract with second baseman Daniel Murphy. The deal, originally agreed upon on Christmas Eve and reportedly worth $37.5 million, was pending only a physical, which Murphy has passed. Murphy, who turns 31 on April 1, will be formally introduced during a press conference on Thursday at Nationals Park with live coverage beginning on MASN

Are the Nationals looking for a catcher?

If Wilson Ramos’ 2015 season was a stock chart, it would drive you crazy on whether to buy or sell. There were plenty of highs: staying healthy resulting in a career-best 128 games played, catching both of Max Scherzer’s no-hitters, tying for the major league lead by throwing out 44 percent of potential basestealers and receiving recognition as a Gold Glove finalist. But there were

Ryan Zimmerman suing Al Jazeera for defamation

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is fighting accusations of performance-enhancing drug use with a defamation lawsuit filed today in the D.C. District Court against Al Jazeera America. Zimmerman is suing Al Jazeera following an investigative broadcast report that named him as receiving and using Delta-2, a hormone supplement banned by Major League Baseball. During the expose, the following conversation occurs between Liam Collins -

Will fans forgive Jonathan Papelbon in 2016?

A new year has arrived, but the slate has not been wiped clean for the Nationals. The hangover still lingers from the embarrassment of Jonathan Papelbon’s very public dugout brawl with Bryce Harper. For many fans, the headache began when general manager Mike Rizzo opted to acquire Papelbon from the rival Phillies at the trade deadline to take over closer duties from Drew Storen. Papelbon’s

Plenty of opportunities for Taylor Jordan and A.J. Cole this spring

As January began a year ago, the Nationals starting rotation appeared locked and loaded for the 2015 season. But by month’s end, general manager Mike Rizzo had stunned everyone by adding another considerable piece, dominant right-hander Max Scherzer. Despite the losses of right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister through free agency this winter, Rizzo maintains satisfaction with a projected starting five arsenal featuring aces Scherzer

Chris Speier looking for ring at Dusty Baker’s side

New Nationals bench coach Chris Speier’s long career in the majors nearly began in Washington when the Senators drafted him out of high school in 1968. But Speier opted for college and became the second overall pick by the Giants two years later. Speier played 19 years, mostly as a shortstop, for the Giants, Expos, Cardinals, Twins and Cubs, and made three All-Star teams. After

Michael A. Taylor aiming for big step in 2016

Michael A. Taylor has a lot on his shoulders. He’s currently projected as the Nationals’ starting center fielder sandwiched between proven veteran Jayson Werth and reigning National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper. At 24, Taylor shows as a five-tool player. His slender frame glides through the alleys turning sure doubles into easy outs. Taylor has power too. Plenty of it. His 14 homers

New year’s resolutions for the Nationals

A crazy 2015 is now in the rear view mirror for the Nationals. A season loaded with expectations broadened by ‘Where’s my ring?’ proclamations came crashing to an end with an embarrassing in-house fight a day after elimination from the postseason picture. Injuries ruined the core of the team and the Nationals never quite recovered. But there were plenty of positives, led by Bryce Harper’s

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