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Top stories of 2017: Another Game 5 loss

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, concluding right now with ... No. 1: Another Game 5 loss It has become something of an annual ritual around

Top stories of 2017: Baker fired, Martinez hired

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 2: Baker fired, Martinez hired The question of Dusty Baker’s future with the Nationals

Top stories of 2017: Scherzer wins another Cy Young

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 3: Scherzer wins another Cy Young Seven-year contracts for pitchers are supposed to be

Top stories of 2017: Strasburg steps up

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 4: Strasburg steps up Through the first seven seasons of his big league career,

Top stories of 2017: Werth’s farewell

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 5: Jayson Werth’s farewell “LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It’s a rare day indeed,

Top stories of 2017: Zimmerman’s comeback

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 6: Ryan Zimmerman’s comeback It sounds a bit silly now, but one year ago

Top stories of 2017: Harper’s knee injury

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, continuing right now with ... No. 7: Bryce Harper’s knee injury As he took the field on Aug. 12 -

Top stories of 2017: The bullpen makeover

As we count down the final days of 2017, we’re counting down the most significant stories of the year for the Nationals. Some are positive. Some are negative. All helped define this baseball season in Washington. We’ll reveal two per day through New Year’s Eve, beginning right now with ... No. 8: The bullpen makeover The Nationals cruised through the first half of the 2017

Nats selected for three early-season Sunday night games

Catching up on more news during my vacation last week, I see that ESPN unveiled roughly one-half of its “Sunday Night Baseball” slate for the 2018 season. And lo and behold, the Nationals are actually prominently featured in a manner we haven’t seen before by the Worldwide Leader in Sports. The Nats were selected to play in three of the first seven “Sunday Night Baseball”

Thoughts on last week’s Adams and Milone signings

If I’ve learned nothing else in 13 years on this beat, it’s this: The best way to ensure the Nationals make some offseason news is to go on vacation. It has happened before, and it happened again last week. While I was soaking up the sun (and watching the Capitals blow a sure-win over the wretched Coyotes) with my family in Arizona, the Nats went

Chip Hale on Dave Martinez, analytics, Max Scherzer and more

It didn’t take long for Dave Martinez’s coaching staff to come together. Barely two weeks after Martinez was introduced as Dusty Baker’s successor, he and general manager Mike Rizzo assembled a staff deep in savvy baseball men that included a pair of former managers, first base coach Tim Bogar, who skippered the Rangers for 22 games late in the 2014 season, and bench coach Chip

Severino on opportunity as backup: “I still have to do my job”

Nationals fans have been hearing for years how Pedro Severino is the catcher-in-waiting on the organizational depth chart. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember Severino is only 24 and has only 35 games and 61 at-bats on his major league resume. That’s hardly enough time for a rookie to make much of an impression. But with Jose Lobaton signing a minor league contract with the Mets

For Difo, confidence and comfort were keys to breakthrough

For Wilmer Difo, a little confidence went a long way. When shortstop Trea Turner broke his wrist last season, Difo stepped in to fill the void, starting 52 games in the speedster’s stead and slashing .303/.359/.398 in those outings. It seemed that the more Difo played, the more comfortable he felt and the better he got. “I felt super good,” Difo said through translator Octavio

Nationals sign Matt Adams to one-year deal

The Nationals’ search for a backup first baseman with a power left-handed bat is over. Matt Adams has agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Nationals, according to industy sources. The deal also reportedly includes $400,000 in incentives. Adams’ arrival in D.C. fills the void on the bench left by Adam Lind, who served as a backup to Ryan Zimmerman at first base

Tommy Milone returning to Nationals (updated)

A former Nationals pitcher is returning to D.C. The Nats have signed left-hander Tommy Milone to a minor league contract, an industry source has confirmed. He will receive an invitation to major league spring training. Milone, 30, was drafted by the Nats in the 10th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Southern California and made his major league debut with the club

Changed Cole wants to lay claim to fifth starter’s job

Some players trying to carve out a spot on a 25-man roster get frustrated by riding the shuttle between Triple-A and the majors, their role changing on a whim because of a parent club’s immediate needs. Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole has used his frequent trips between Syracuse, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., as a motivational tool. “It always gives you little extra fight in there because

Lilliquist ready to lead top-flight pitching staff to new heights

Fired by the Cardinals at the end of the regular season, Derek Lilliquist had to wonder if it would take a while to find another pitching coach job as good as the one he held the previous six seasons. That kind of job opening, for a perennial postseason contender, doesn’t come around all that often. And then one did. When the Nationals came calling last

Strasburg: All-Star Game interrupted routine, led to arm issue

Stephen Strasburg quieted his critics last season, his seven shutout innings in the Nationals’ Game 4 of the National League Division Series victory capping a workmanlike season that saw the right-hander take the ball from opening day until final outing, the dominant start-to-finish season that had eluded him. Yes, there were some speed bumps along the way, just to test his mettle. His spot in

Rizzo on Kintzler, Glover and the state of the Nats bullpen

As much as he wanted to bring back Brandon Kintzler and keep the back end of his bullpen intact for the 2018 season, Mike Rizzo admittedly thought the Nationals would be at a disadvantage in negotiations. Kintzler, who recorded 29 saves this season (28 while with the Twins), figured to get offers to close somewhere else. And sure enough, he did. Only to decide to

Results-oriented Taylor has focus on improving on last year’s breakout

If you think Michael A. Taylor is resting on his laurels after a breakthrough season that catapulted him back into the long-range plans of the Nationals, think again. Taylor said yesterday at Nationals Winterfest that he isn’t taking anything for granted, and that he’s approaching spring training in February the way he’s approached every one of the major league camps he’s attended. “I take the

On Kintzler’s return, pitchers batting eighth and Long’s hiring

The Nationals’ first major league signing of the offseason still isn’t official because Brandon Kintzler still needs to pass his physical. But that didn’t stop those who were at Nats Winterfest on Saturday from raving about the re-signing of the veteran reliever, which preserves the three-man unit that so effectively locked down games late this season. “That was awesome to see,” said Sean Doolittle, who

Murphy unwilling to put timetable on recovery from microfracture surgery

Daniel Murphy hobbled into his scheduled interview session on crutches and said made sure everyone knew he’s already begun walking. He’s learned a lot about the microfracture surgery performed on his right knee on Oct. 20, eight days after the Nationals ended their season with another first-round playoff exit in the National League Division Series. He’s not sure if the injury was the result of

After “worst year of my life,” Eaton itching to return from injury

Injured time is hard time for ballplayers, never more so than injured time that overtakes nearly an entire season and leaves a player watching from the outside as his teammates lose in the postseason. Adam Eaton just experienced all of that in 2017, and it left him determined never to experience it again. “Oh, it was brutal,” the outfielder said Saturday at Nationals Winterfest. “The

Glover has begun throwing, vows to be ready for spring camp

Like many Nationals fans, right-hander Koda Glover keeps replaying the fateful fifth inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series in his mind. Unlike most Nats fans, however, Glover isn’t focusing on the fact that eventual National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer failed to throttle the Cubs in a rare relief appearance when his team most needed him to. Glover thinks about

Cy Young, fatherhood helping Scherzer move on from Game 5

He battled through a grind of a season that included a string of fluky, nagging ailments only to emerge with the third Cy Young Award of his career, an achievement that already creates talk of his Hall of Fame resume. For Max Scherzer, though, the greatest pleasure of this offseason so far has been the mundane task now required of him several times a day.

Plenty of player updates coming this weekend at Winterfest

After a week’s worth of rumors and a lot of time spent hearing from the Nationals general manager and manager, this weekend we’ll get a chance to hear from a whole bunch of players who have come from all parts of the country (and beyond) to attend Nats Winterfest. Yes, it’s time for the annual, two-day winter event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Lobaton heads to Mets on minor league deal

Jose Lobaton has found a new home, but the Nationals’ longtime backup catcher will be staying in the National League East. Lobaton has signed a minor league contract with the Mets, who will offer him an invitation to big league camp next spring and a chance to make their opening day roster. The 33-year-old spent the last four seasons as the Nationals’ No. 2 catcher,

Nats expect rehabbing Murphy to be ready for opening day

One of the Nationals’ unspoken but most significant concerns of the winter is the status of Daniel Murphy, who had surgery on his right knee Oct. 20 that initially left the club unable to say for sure if the All-Star second baseman would be ready for the start of the 2018 season. In the eight weeks since Murphy had the procedure - officially a debridement

With Kintzler, Nats turn to familiar face to fill bullpen hole

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals came to the Swan and Dolphin Resort with a short but clear list of needs. They departed having addressed only one of those needs, but they did so in a manner that should please just about anyone who cares about such things, at a price that should allow them to address their other needs later this winter. The

Nats take Wilson, Fleck in Triple-A phase of Rule 5 draft

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals neither made a selection nor lost any players the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft today at the Winter Meetings. But they improved their organizational depth with a pair of picks in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5. In the first round of the minor league phase, the Nationals selected second baseman Jacob Wilson off

Previewing the Rule 5 draft

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft is the last order of business at the Winter Meetings, and while the Nationals probably won’t add anyone to their 40-man roster, it’s possible they could lose one or more prospects. Teams with openings on their 40-man rosters are allowed to select players who were first signed at 18 and not added to a club’s

Source: Kintzler returning to Nats on two-year deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals front office was working late Wednesday night at the Winter Meetings. And because of it, the club’s “Law Firm” bullpen will be reunited for the 2018 season. The Nats and Brandon Kintzler agreed to a two-year contract in the wee hours, a source confirmed, ensuring the veteran right-hander will return and again team up with Ryan Madson and

Rizzo willing to consider another closer, confirms Harper talks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Nearly three days into the Winter Meetings, the Nationals have yet to make any transactions. Then again, most teams that aren’t the Marlins fall into that same category. What the Nats have done at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort to this point is meet with a lot of rival clubs and agents representing a host of players,

Rizzo says top prospect Robles won’t be a spare outfielder for Nationals

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Wherever he starts the 2018 season, top Nationals prospect Victor Robles is going to be patrolling the outfield every day. There’s no role for him as a part-time outfielder with the Nats, general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday at the Winter Meetings. “He won’t be an extra outfielder on the big league club,” Rizzo said during his daily briefing with

Boras had “preliminary” Harper talks with Nats last month

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Scott Boras met with Nationals ownership last month to discuss a contract extension with Bryce Harper, a meeting that obviously didn’t result in the consummation of any deal to keep the star outfielder in Washington long term, but at least showed a willingness on his part to engage in talks before he becomes a free agent next winter. “We had

Maddon on protégé Martinez: “Davey is going to do a great job”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - No matter how prepared he thinks he is, new Nationals manager Dave Martinez cannot escape one indisputable fact that will dog him until March 29: He’s never managed in the major leagues. Baseball history is rife with learned men who have been unsuccessful in their first go-around at the helm of a big league club. Joe Torre finished in last

Pursuit of Davis would leave Nats facing familiar closer issue

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - That the Nationals reportedly are interested in Wade Davis is not surprising. They made a run at the reliever at last year’s Winter Meetings, only to watch as he eventually was traded by the Royals to the Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler. There is one major difference for the Nats between last winter’s pursuit of Davis and this winter’s potential

Rizzo on Harper, Arrieta and more at the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The 2018 Winter Meetings are, in all likelihood, going to be the Bryce Harper Winter Meetings. With baseball’s annual event just happening to be held in Las Vegas at the same time the town’s most famous native professional athlete just happens to be a free agent, a circus atmosphere is pretty much expected by everyone. Unless, of course, the Nationals

Arrieta not on Nationals’ radar despite Boras’ push

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Start with a big-name free agent. Make sure he’s represented by Scott Boras. Then connect them to the Nationals, specifically managing principal owner Ted Lerner. Congratulations, you’ve just created the perfect Winter Meetings rumor. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again and it did happen today when ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that Boras “is trying to engage the Nationals on Jake

Fleshing out Nats’ possible interest in Marlins outfielders

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Rumors are as much a part of the Winter Meetings as suite visits, shopping lists and late-night quaffing of beers. Most rumors don’t pan out, and those that have legs often tire out long before they reach the finish line. But you listen to them, consider them, and then decide which of them have a shred of validity and which

Nats think reduced workload will be beneficial for Wieters

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Catcher Matt Wieters will be back behind the plate for the Nationals next season, having exercised his $10.5 million player option. But the guaranteed contract doesn’t mean he’ll carry the same workload. The numbers the veteran backstop amassed during his first season in D.C. were abysmal. He caught in 118 games as the Nats grew increasingly dissatisfied with backup Jose

Can Nats convince top reliever to sign up for seventh-inning role?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals are in the market for at least one experienced reliever, preferably right-handed. Whether they’re willing to jump right now into a market that has quickly become the most active of any position at the Winter Meetings remains to be seen. Another veteran right-handed setup man came off the board Monday when Pat Neshek returned to the Phillies for

Mike Rizzo on restocking the Nationals bench

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - When the hits kept coming last year - when the Nationals lost key players to injury seemingly on a regular basis - the bench stepped up and made absences much easier to tolerate. Shortstop Trea Turner missed 51 games with a broken right wrist and an abdominal injury shelved backup Stephen Drew, opening the door for Wilmer Difo to prove

Rizzo suggests Nationals not looking for fifth starter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It’s the Winter Meetings, and it’s Mike Rizzo talking, so take this all with a large grain of salt. But a few hours after arriving at the Swan and Dolphin Resort for this week’s annual baseball industry gathering, the Nationals general manager suggested he’s not in the market for another experienced major league starting pitcher, instead talking up the two

Martinez on Harper’s future: “Can I lobby right now?”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Dave Martinez has been the Nationals manager for about six weeks, but the mere mention of superstar right fielder Bryce Harper elicits the same reactions as a kid rushing down the steps on Christmas morning and finding just the present he wanted neatly wrapped in colorful paper under the tree. Saucer-sized eyes, unbridled excitement, a guy who can’t wait to

Martinez plans to bat Eaton leadoff, says Murphy “on schedule”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - There is much Dave Martinez still needs to learn about his Nationals roster, and much of that won’t happen until he gets a chance to see them on practice fields under the spring Florida sun, but the rookie manager was willing to admit he’s already made one key lineup decision: Adam Eaton will bat leadoff in 2018. In his first

Grounds crew gig, mascot visit highlight Nats auction items

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Ever wonder what it would be like to help prepare the field at Nationals Park for a game? Ever wish you could have Teddy or Screech visit your school event or birthday party? Or wonder what it’s like to cover the Nationals from the press box high atop the ballpark on South Capitol Street? If so, have I got a

Market for relievers already being set as Winter Meetings open

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Winter Meetings officially get underway this morning, but a few teams already were acting yesterday like the event had kicked into full gear. And the Nationals likely were paying close attention to what happened. With the Cubs reportedly signing Brandon Morrow and the Cardinals reportedly signing Luke Gregerson, the relief market is now starting to take shape. And so

Could Nationals dangle Gio Gonzalez in trade talks?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Greetings from the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, where baseball’s Winter Meetings are underway. With Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton’s situations resolved before a host of general managers and front office types convened on this resort to talk trade and lure free agents, there’s a general feeling that the proverbial floodgates could open over the next few

What’s on tap for the Nationals at the Winter Meetings

It’s the second week of December, snow just fell around here and thousands of folks who work in the baseball industry are en route to Orlando for the next four days. Yes, it’s time for the Winter Meetings, which for the fourth time in a dozen years is being held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort near Walt Disney World. Will the Nationals consider this

Goforth signs minor league deal with Nats

The Nationals today announced that they have signed right-hander David Goforth to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. Goforth, 29, is 1-0 with a 5.94 ERA and 1.734 WHIP in 31 relief appearances with the Brewers over the past three seasons. In 2017, he threw one scoreless inning for Milwaukee, and was 3-4 with a 3.98 ERA, five saves

Free agent dominoes may finally start to fall

One of the two biggest dominoes of the hot stove league dropped Friday. The other is still standing, with the potential to topple at any moment, though not where originally expected. At which point, the rest of the baseball world should be able to proceed with the rest of the offseason. Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels caught many by surprise, perhaps most

Nationals face tough trade dilemma with Taylor

When Adam Eaton tore his ACL on April 28 and Michael A. Taylor once again found himself the Nationals’ unlikely starting center fielder, the reaction was understandably unenthusiastic. Taylor, after all, had already been given opportunities to take over as the everyday center fielder each of the previous two seasons when the originally designated starter went down to injury (Denard Span in 2015, Ben Revere

Pitching won’t come cheap for Nationals this winter

The Nationals know they need to acquire multiple pitchers this winter in hope of filling several holes vacated by departing free agents. They may have found out Wednesday just how much it’s going to cost them to do it. Though the Rangers’ signing of Mike Minor didn’t draw major headlines, it was noted in baseball circles for one important reason: The left-hander may have just

Wednesday morning Nats Q&A

One week from now, we’ll be neck-deep in the Winter Meetings, with (hopefully) plenty of newsy developments to discuss. For now, though, it’s been a really quiet offseason for the Nationals, the notable exception being that minor change to the manager’s office and coaching staff, of course. But there’s plenty on the Nats’ table as they prepare to head down to Walt Disney World for

Could the Nats re-sign any of their free agents?

If you scrolled through yesterday’s organizational depth chart blog post, you may have noticed that the Nationals lost a significant amount of depth in a few areas when the season ended and several prominent players became free agents. All of a sudden, that remade bullpen is looking mighty thin. As is the Nats bench, which was such a strength by season’s end. It doesn’t have

Organizational depth chart reveals Nats’ positions of need

The Winter Meetings begin one week from today in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., so the Nationals - along with the rest of the baseball world - should be just about ready to start getting serious about making actual transactions that will alter their roster in 2018 and beyond. We already have a hunch what’s on Mike Rizzo’s shopping list - No. 5 starter, right-handed relievers,

No experience? For today’s managers, no problem

The Nationals took some grief earlier this fall for firing an experienced manager like Dusty Baker and handing over a 97-win team challenged to win a World Series right now to a first-time skipper like Dave Martinez. Who knew they’d actually end up hiring one of the most experienced guys of the six who filled major league managerial openings this fall? The Yankees’ surprise hire

Why the Nationals should be interested where Stanton ends up

The hot stove has barely produced a flicker so far, and that’s in no small part due to the long, slow dance that eventually will result in transactions involving two big-name guys: Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. Both are kind of holding up the market right now, but there are signs both are moving toward making decisions about where they want to play in 2018.

Nats tender contracts to Rendon, Roark, Taylor

The Nationals tendered contracts to Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark, and Michael A. Taylor today, procedural moves that needed to be completed before an 8 p.m. deadline that presented many other clubs with far more pressing decisions. In previous years, the Nats have faced some tough choices at this deadline, opting to non-tender players like Ben Revere, Craig Stammen, John Lannan and Jesus Flores whose performance

Tracking down some former Nationals pitchers

Who knew a trip down memory lane would be so popular? The response to Thursday’s article tracking down five former Nationals position players were overwhelmingly positive. Glad you all enjoyed it. I had already planned to publish today’s article about former Nats pitchers, so hopefully you’ll enjoy these as well. Maybe I’ll have to make this into something of a regular feature, though, maybe a

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