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Nats add veteran relievers Nathan, Albers on minor league deals

The Nationals, in their ongoing search for a new closer, have signed the man who ranks eighth all-time with 377 saves. Whether Joe Nathan, at 42, still has enough left in his twice-reconstructed elbow to save another major league game remains to be seen, but the club is willing to take a low-risk chance on him. In signing both Nathan and veteran right-hander Matt Albers

Closer or not, Nationals do need more bullpen help

The Nationals loaded up a semi-truck full of baseball gear Monday morning and sent it down Interstate 95 toward West Palm Beach, where their still-under-construction new spring training complex awaits. It’s an annual rite of winter, the so-called “Truck Day” when teams across baseball do likewise and try to stir up warm feelings of pitchers and catchers and palm trees and bunting drills. That truck,

Thoughts on a newsy week for the Nationals

After more than six weeks of radio silence out of South Capitol Street, you had to figure the Nationals were due to make some news at long last. Sure enough, it merely required your humble beat writer going on vacation last week for it to happen. You know the facts at this point - thanks to Pete Kerzel and Byron Kerr for covering things in

Nats ink swingman Vance Worley to minor league deal

The Nationals on Saturday announced the signing of veteran right-hander Vance Worley to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training, snatching a player the Orioles hoped would return to their bullpen after they cut ties with him last month. Worley, 29, is capable of filling multiple roles on a pitching staff and could inherit the swingman role vacated when the

Playing the waiting game (Green signs minor league deal)

In baseball’s olden days - like, maybe, a decade or so ago - we’d just now be hitting the winter doldrums. There used to be a significant number of free agent signings (read: most of them) by the time the calendar turned to a new year. Trades were made throughout the offseason, but most of the wheeling and dealing came in December, a nod to

Nationals re-sign Stephen Drew

The Nationals bolstered their bench on Thursday, reportedly re-signing veteran infielder Stephen Drew to a one-year contract that could net him up to $4.7 million if he reaches certain incentives. Drew revived his career in 2015, becoming an integral bench piece in Dusty Baker’s first year at the Nationals’ helm, slashing .266/.339/.524 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games during a season interrupted

Assessing the Nationals’ in-house candidates to close (updated)

We’re less than a month from the date pitchers and catchers report to spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and the Nationals’ closer picture is no clearer than it was during the Winter Meetings, when incumbent Mark Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants. Since the season ended, with speculation that Melancon would bolt for greener pastures (emphasis on

Who leads off for Nationals, Turner or Eaton?

This time last year, the Nationals had just acquired outfielder Ben Revere in a trade with the Blue Jays and he was already slotted as their leadoff hitter. The Nats were hoping to take advantage of his speed to add another dimension to a lineup lacking fleet-footedness, and fans and prognosticators buried themselves in predictions of how many bases he might steal and how many

What lies ahead for Pedro Severino?

If you’re Nationals catcher Pedro Severino, it’s been quite a whirlwind few months. Summoned from Triple-A Syracuse on Sept. 2 for the stretch run, Severino’s presence took on added significance on Sept. 26, when Wilson Ramos sustained a season-ending knee injury. Suddenly, Severino found himself starting two games in the National League Division Series. But since the Nats were eliminated from the playoffs, Severino has

A few thoughts on Rodriguez and the Hall of Fame

Let’s start off with a show of hands: Anyone else out there long for the days when we didn’t have two-plus months of endless debate over who should be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Remember when the discussion period was only a couple of weeks, roughly right after the new year and up to the mid-January announcement of election results? Now we’ve

Could Nats stand pat and field competitive 25-man roster?

It has now been 41 days since the Nationals last added or subtracted a player from their 40-man roster. (It was the Danny Espinosa trade to the Angels, for those wondering.) That’s an awfully prolonged period of radio silence for any major league club, but the Nats aren’t alone in this regard. It’s been an unusually slow-developing offseason across baseball, with a bunch of prominent

Thursday morning Nats/Hall of Fame Q&A

There’s still not a whole lot to discuss about the Nationals, who continue to stay quiet during perhaps the quietest offseason in team history (so far). But there has been plenty to discuss about baseball in the last day, with last night’s Hall of Fame election announcement drawing everyone’s attention. If you missed it, here’s my (admittedly really long) blog post explaining my Hall of

Nationals salute Rodriguez, their first Hall of Fame player

The first image of Ivan Rodriguez for everyone will not include him wearing a Nationals uniform. Rodriguez will forever be known as a Ranger, and surely his plaque in Cooperstown will feature that logo on his cap. Pudge also will be remembered fondly by many for helping the Marlins win the 2003 World Series and for helping the Tigers reach the 2006 World Series. He

My 2017 Hall of Fame ballot (Rodriguez among trio elected)

There is no greater responsibility in this job than serving as a Hall of Fame voter. In the seven years since I first qualified, once I had been a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for 10 consecutive years, I have put a whole lot of time and energy into this. And I’m not alone in that regard. Every fellow voter I’ve ever

What to watch for in tonight’s Hall of Fame election results

For lifelong baseball fans, few days on the calendar compare to Hall of Fame election day. It’s a day to celebrate some of the greatest players in the game’s history, not to mention fiercely debate the credentials of those who either just squeaked in or missed out. Shortly after 6 p.m. Eastern time, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson will make the official announcement, revealing

What’s the wildest game in Nationals history?

I feel like I’ve been referencing other sports and trying to connect them to the Nationals here a lot lately, but given the lack of baseball news this winter, sometimes it feels like the only interesting way to start a baseball discussion. So I’m going to do it again today. Apologies in advance. You may have watched, as I did, an absolutely crazy hockey game

Nats’ opening day payroll all but certain to go up from last year

Whether fans want to hear it - or believe it - teams are always going to be dealing with payroll guidelines. Even the most free-spending clubs have a budget they need to conform to; it’s just that some clubs’ budgets are much larger than others, either because they have to be or because owners want them to be that way. The Nationals don’t divulge their

On the Nationals’ everlasting NLCS drought

Watching football last night, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact the Patriots have now advanced to the AFC Championship for the sixth consecutive year. That’s pretty remarkable, especially in this day and age. Equally remarkable is the fact New England has reached the AFC Championship 11 times during a 16-year run that began when a sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady replaced

Did the Nationals just smooth things over with Bryce Harper?

That the Nationals and Bryce Harper came to terms yesterday without needing to swap arbitration figures is not a surprise. But the amount the two sides agreed to ($13.625 million for one season) did surprise more than a few people. Harper made only $5 million last season - yes, it’s OK to use the qualifier “only” in front of $5 million because given Harper’s MVP

Nats avoid arbitration with Harper, Rendon, Roark, Norris

The Nationals came to terms with all four of their arbitration-eligible players on 2017 contracts before today’s deadline, avoiding the potential for contentious hearings next month with some of the most prominent members of their roster. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark and Derek Norris all settled on one-year contracts before the 1 p.m. Eastern time deadline. Harper’s 2017 salary will be a hefty $13.625

Nationals sign veteran lefty Cotts to minor league deal

The Nationals are bringing another veteran left-hander into the fray to compete for a bullpen job this spring, signing Neal Cotts to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp, a source familiar with the deal confirmed. Cotts, who turns 37 in March, owns a 3.96 ERA in 483 career appearances since 2003, most of those coming with the White Sox and

Arbitration deadline day for four key Nationals

Perhaps the quietest offseason the Nationals have experienced in a long time will perk up with a little bit of news today. All major league clubs have until 1 p.m. EST to agree to salary terms with their arbitration-eligible players or else formally submit competing offers to the league, setting the stage for hearings next month. It’s not necessarily the most important day of the

Thursday morning odds and ends

Some random thoughts on a Thursday morning in mid-January, with the Nationals now having gone a full 30 days since making their last player transaction ... * It’s about that time in the calendar when projections for the season begin to come out. FanGraphs.com, for example, has its 2017 standings projections up now, and though these can and will change as teams make more moves

Report: Roark commits to pitch for Team USA in WBC

Max Scherzer won’t be pitching for Team USA this spring, but it appears Tanner Roark will wear the stars and stripes. Roark has committed to pitch for the American squad in the World Baseball Classic, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. The Nationals right-hander will leave the club in early March and miss at least a week while Team USA competes in the tournament’s first

As quiet offseason continues, Nats still looking for a closer

Teams across baseball tend to take a break around the holidays, but they usually get back to work right after New Year’s Day and continue altering their rosters as the clock to spring training starts ticking down. That holiday break, though, seems to have extended into mid-January this time around. Because there’s been an awful dearth of news so far in 2017, unless the signings

Is there any better way to get stars to play in the WBC?

Max Scherzer was genuinely excited to pitch for his country in the World Baseball Classic this spring. For all his career accomplishments to date, the Nationals right-hander has not been part of a big international competition like this before, so when Team USA manager Jim Leyland came calling earlier this offseason, Scherzer jumped at the opportunity. “I have so much respect for Jim Leyland,” Scherzer

Scherzer out of WBC with knuckle injury, OK for spring training

Max Scherzer won’t be pitching in the World Baseball Classic after all. Scherzer will have to sit out this spring’s international competition while recovering from a stress fracture in the knuckle on his right ring finger, the Nationals announced this afternoon. The team didn’t say when or how Scherzer sustained the injury but said the pitcher still will be a “full participant” in spring training.

How long does the Nationals’ window to win extend?

Given the lengths of contracts, the aging of players and the overall circle of baseball life, it’s popular to look at the Nationals and say they have a limited window in which to enjoy peak success. What, though, is that window? Is it confined to one season? Two? Three? More? Or has the window already closed shut? Remember, in the last year alone the Nationals

Tracking down former Nats pitchers

Yesterday, we tracked down some former Nationals position players to see what has become of them since we last saw them. Today we look at former pitchers, with some particularly notable and memorable names in this bunch. ROSS DETWILER The sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft had a few big moments during his Nationals career - most notably, he tossed a gem in the

Tracking down former Nats position players

Baseball rosters are a constantly changing entity. Teams make moves throughout a season and offseason, calling up this player, sending another player down, trading this one away, signing this one off the open market. In the process, a lot of players who become well-known and popular among fans, teammates and media alike disappear, never to be heard from again in these parts. The Nationals, like

Nats hire longtime scout De Jon Watson as special assistant

The Nationals have made an addition to their pro scouting staff, hiring De Jon Watson as a special assistant to the general manager. Watson spent the last two seasons as senior vice president of baseball operations for the Diamondbacks, overseeing the club’s scouting and player development programs. Arizona let him go in September, electing not to pick up his contract option for 2017, one of

Has the Nats lineup improved from last year?

Though the Nationals’ offseason is only about two-thirds complete at this point - for these purposes we’re talking about from when the postseason ended until the day pitchers and catchers report for spring training - barring a surprising turn of events, they already know who’s going to be in their opening day lineup. Of course things can change between now and then, whether injuries or

Thursday morning Nats Q&A

It’s been an awfully slow-news couple of weeks for the Nationals, who haven’t announced a roster transaction since Dec. 13, when they signed Emmanuel Burriss and three pitchers to minor league contracts. They haven’t made a move involving a member of the 40-man roster since the Dec. 10 trade of Danny Espinosa to the Angels. This isn’t unprecedented. Most major league clubs go mostly silent

Let the countdown to spring training begin

It may not feel like it, not with bitter cold temperatures coming later this week, but we actually aren’t all that far away from baseball season. We’re only 41 days away, to be precise. Yes, only 41 days from now, Nationals pitchers and catchers will officially report to their new spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., the club announced yesterday. That’s Feb. 14,

After injury-plagued 2016, Ross seeks consistency in 2017

There was no shortage of domino effects from last month’s trade for Adam Eaton, which cost the Nationals three top pitching prospects, including two hurlers who figured to be the club’s first options for rotation depth in 2017. In dealing Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the White Sox, general manager Mike Rizzo thinned his organization’s pitching ranks in order to acquire a dynamic outfielder

Will D.C. sports finally get over the hump in 2017?

And so 2017 has officially arrived at last. And not a moment too soon for many people who won’t have fond memories of 2016. Leaving politics, celebrity deaths and other topics aside, 2016 was a particularly frustrating year for Washington sports fans, who once again had countless opportunities to get their hopes up only to have those hopes dashed in cruel fashion. The Nationals, of

A few thoughts on the Nationals and the WBC

Coming off of minor offseason elbow surgery, Luis Ayala was a key member of the Nationals bullpen heading into the 2006 season. He had gone 8-7 with a 2.66 ERA and a save in 68 appearances in the team’s first season in D.C. since relocating from Montreal and had cemented himself in an important setup role in front of closer Chad Cordero. The Nationals wanted

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