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Why it’s smart for Mike Rizzo to wait to fill final roster spots

Unlike other teams in the major leagues, the Nationals did a bulk of their heavy offseason lifting before the Winter Meetings convened in Las Vegas. They bolstered the bullpen with the additions of right-handers Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal. They remade their catching corps, signing free agent Kurt Suzuki for another tour of duty and trading for Yan Gomes. And they spent big on starter

Is Difo better as a regular or in a utility role?

Throughout the offseason, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has alternately professed satisfaction with the tandem of Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick, who could share second base in 2019, and been in regular contact with the agents for a slew of free agents capable of taking over at the keystone. Through this complicated dance, I’ve wavered on whether second base is best turned over to someone

Top stories of 2018: Harper’s up-and-down contract year

As we count down the final days of 2018, 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. Five top stories made the final cut, and we’ve revealed one per day, concluding now with ... No. 1: Harper’s walk year It had been looming since ... well,

Top stories of 2018: The late-summer roster teardown

As we count down the final days of 2018, 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. Five top stories made the final cut, and we’ll reveal one per day, continuing with ... No. 2: The late-summer roster teardown Daniel Murphy, Matt Adams, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan

Top stories of 2018: Soto’s dazzling debut

As we count down the final days of 2018, 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. Five top stories made the final cut, and we’ll reveal one per day, continuing with ... No. 3: Juan Soto’s arrival The Nationals had long touted a prized prospect

Sánchez grateful for contract, confident success will continue

Aníbal Sánchez had recently turned 34 when he made his 2018 debut for the Braves (against the Nationals, for what that’s worth). He was the not-so-proud owner of a 10-20 record and 6.09 ERA over the previous two seasons with the Tigers. He had to have at least some doubts deep inside his head that he might never get another significant big league contract. When

Top stories of 2018: Martinez’s first year in charge

As we count down the final days of 2018, 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. Five top stories made the final cut, and we’ll reveal one per day, continuing with ... No. 4: Davey Martinez’s first season as manager Whether you were a fan

Top stories of 2018: All-Star Week in D.C.

As we count down the final days of 2018, 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. Five top stories made the final cut, and we’ll reveal one each of the next five days, beginning with ... No. 5: The All-Star Game in D.C. From the

What’s still on your Nationals wish list?

The Nationals went shopping early this winter. They made a bunch of moves in November and early December to address most of their glaring roster needs, leaving only a few remaining items left to cross off during this holiday season. But they’re not entirely done yet. There are still acquisitions to be made, vacant positions to be filled. And, of course, there’s the biggest prize

Would anyone support “Expos Day” at Nationals Park?

The Carolina Hurricanes wore Hartford Whalers uniforms Sunday for their home game against the Boston Bruins. And if that isn’t the strangest lede I’ve ever written to a blog post about the Nationals, I’m trying to remember something else that would top it. You see, the Hurricanes’ throwback night on the ice reminded me of something I’ve long pondered in my own mind: Would the

Updating some Nats’ winter ball performances

After a furious Friday of hot stove action, the baseball world is now taking holiday break. That includes the winter leagues, where several Nationals have been playing. Atop that list, of course, is Michael A. Taylor, who has been in the Dominican Republic putting some swing changes into practice in an attempt to come to spring training a new hitter. Taylor isn’t off to a

Harper to L.A. just makes too much sense for both sides

If you think the Dodgers aren’t interested in Bryce Harper ... well, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Long before they pulled off Friday’s blockbuster trade that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood to the Reds to create a sudden opening in their outfield, the Dodgers have loomed as a prime potential destination for Harper. Remember, this is the franchise that actually

Why the Nats placed their bet on Sánchez, not Roark

Place your bets now. Who will have the better season: Aníbal Sánchez or Tanner Roark? You know the comparisons are inevitable after the Nationals traded Roark to the Reds last week and then signed Sánchez Thursday evening to take his place as the club’s No. 4 starter. As everyone said at the time, the Roark trade could only be judged after it was known who

Source: Sánchez gets two-year deal from Nats, plus 2021 option

The Nationals, in need of a No. 4 starter since last week’s trade of Tanner Roark, have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with veteran right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, according to a source familiar with the signing. The deal is pending a physical and also includes a club option for 2021. The Detroit Free Press reported Sánchez will make $19 million over the two guaranteed

Thursday morning Nats Q&A

The Winter Meetings have come and gone. Tanner Roark is no longer a National. Matt Adams is again a National. Bryce Harper still hasn’t decided what he’s going to be in 2019 and beyond. There are a few more shopping days until Christmas, so perhaps the Nats could get something done before everyone breaks for the holidays. But more and more it looks like any

In appreciation of Tanner Roark

Because the trade occurred late in the Winter Meetings last week, and because the Nationals have made more news since, Tanner Roark’s departure for Cincinnati perhaps hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves. Consider this, then, one final acknowledgement of Roark’s career in Washington. Because it was significant, it was very good at times and it may not be as easy to replace as

Adams jumped at chance to re-sign with “A-class organization”

From the moment he departed Washington for St. Louis (via a late-August waiver claim) Matt Adams made it clear he’d be interested in returning to the Nationals next season. He wasn’t just saying it to be nice to his former employer. Adams officially rejoined the Nats today after passing a physical, the last step toward finalizing a one-year, $3 million contract that also includes a

Nationals’ luxury tax bill is nearly $2.4 million

The Nationals’ luxury tax bill this season is slightly less than $2.4 million, a not-insignificant amount to pay for exceeding Major League Baseball’s pseudo-salary cap, but probably not a steep enough penalty to deter the club from making an offer to Bryce Harper that would catapult it over the threshold again in 2019. The Nationals’ final payroll for luxury tax purposes was roughly $205 million,

Infielder from Murphy trade is player to be named in Gomes deal

The Nationals completed their trade for Yan Gomes today when they announced minor league infielder Andruw Monasterio as the player to be named in their deal with the Indians. Monasterio, 21, was the prospect the Nationals acquired from the Cubs for Daniel Murphy in August. He wound up playing in only 13 games with the organization, all for Single-A Potomac, hitting .308 with a triple

Aggressive moves show four NL East teams trying to win now

The National League East hasn’t been decided by fewer than seven games since 2012, and the division race hasn’t come down to the season’s final weekend since 2008. We have no way of knowing yet how it’ll play out in 2019, but this much is safe to say: Right now, four of the division’s five clubs are acting like they expect to be in the

Reunion with Adams made too much sense for both sides

The trading of a player months before he becomes a free agent often comes with an important caveat: “We can always re-sign him over the winter.” Truth is, it rarely happens. Whether it’s the bad blood a player feels toward an organization for dealing him away or a genuine lack of interest from the club in bringing said player back, these reunions just don’t take

Adams returning to Nats for 2019, with mutual option for 2020

Even after he was traded to the Cardinals as the Nationals’ season collapsed in August, Matt Adams spoke glowingly of Washington as an organization and a city and said he’d be interested in returning. Turns out he’ll be coming back next season. The Nationals and Adams have agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2020, pending a physical, according to two sources

Two names possibly coming off second base market

Mike Rizzo’s public stance on the Nationals’ need to acquire a second baseman has been adjusted several times over the last two weeks. The general manager initially insisted this wasn’t a priority and that he was comfortable with a Howie Kendrick-Wilmer Difo combo until prospect Carter Kieboom is ready. Rizzo’s tune then changed as he began to suggest he’d be interested in an acquisition, if

Where things stand halfway through the offseason

The Winter Meetings are now completed, which means the offseason is now half completed. Yep, it’s been 10 weeks since the Nationals’ season ended in Colorado, and it’s 10 weeks until pitchers and catchers report to West Palm Beach. So this feels like a good opportunity to take a broad look at the state of the roster, figure out what the Nats have accomplished so

Nats head home minus Roark, but with door wide open for others

LAS VEGAS - The Nationals came to town Sunday with a short list of roster needs after an aggressive run of moves earlier in the offseason. They leave town today without having filled any of those holes, but having created a brand new one. Wednesday evening’s surprise trade of Tanner Roark to the Reds for minor league reliever Tanner Rainey wasn’t what most would have

Rizzo hoping Taylor’s offseason work will pay dividends

LAS VEGAS - If there’s any player on the Nationals roster who needs to chill out and press the reset button, it’s center fielder Michael A. Taylor, whose hopes of following up a breakout 2017 campaign were dashed last season when general ineffectiveness cost him a starting job and made him question how he was going about his daily work. So what’s Taylor doing in

Nats trade Roark to Reds for hard-throwing reliever

LAS VEGAS - Asked Tuesday about the possibility of trading Tanner Roark, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo suggested such a move would only happen if the Nationals had already acquired another pitcher to fill that spot in a rotation top-heavy with talent but lacking in quality depth. This afternoon, Rizzo traded Roark to the Reds for a minor league reliever, leaving his rotation - for

Rizzo: Nats doing “due diligence” on Japanese lefty Kikuchi

LAS VEGAS - General manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday that the Nationals are doing their “due diligence” on Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who could be the first player to benefit from new posting rules agreed upon by Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. “We’ve monitored him, we’ve scouted him,” Rizzo said during his afternoon briefing with reporters during the Winter Meetings at Mandalay Bay

Boras won’t close door on Nationals re-signing Harper

LAS VEGAS - Echoing what general manager Mike Rizzo has been saying all week, and not what managing principal owner Mark Lerner said last week, agent Scott Boras today insisted the Nationals are not out of the running to re-sign free agent Bryce Harper. “I think when they say the door’s open, I would certainly pay attention to what they say,” Boras said during the

Decisiveness, patience equally important in Rizzo’s world

LAS VEGAS - Even before he’d settled into his suite at the Delano Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Nationals general manger Mike Rizzo had swiftly and decisively checked off most of the items on his offseason to-do list. He’d bolstered the back end of his bullpen by trading with the Marlins for Kyle Barraclough and signing free agent Trevor Rosenthal to

Martinez’s motto for 2019 Nationals: “Just one more”

LAS VEGAS - If Davey Martinez was going to create a motto for the 2019 Nationals, it would be rather simple while also driving home the main point he wants to convey to his players. “Just one more,” the manager said Tuesday during his media session at the Winter Meetings. “One more. One more of everything. One more strikeout. One more stolen base. One more

Martinez thinks Robles is ready to play every day

LAS VEGAS - When Victor Robles hit .353 over his first seven Grapefruit League games in spring training, Nationals manager Davey Martinez didn’t get carried away with thinking how his top prospect might impact the lineup in 2018. Martinez knows spring training stats can be fool’s gold, and that wunderkind prospects can suddenly look line overmatched roster filler once they’ve faced - and struggled against

Teams inquiring about Roark, but Rizzo wants more pitching

LAS VEGAS - Though multiple teams have approached the Nationals in recent days about Tanner Roark, general manager Mike Rizzo suggested he isn’t looking to trade the veteran right-hander and would only do so if he had already bolstered his rotation with another significant acquisition. Responding to a report early this morning by Yahoo! Sports that the Nationals “have engaged in multiple discussions to trade”

What to make of Tanner Roark trade speculation

LAS VEGAS - The Winter Meetings are all about rumors. They dominate the lobby conversation day and night at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort. They fuel all sorts of media speculation. And they’re discussed each day when reporters meet with general managers to get an update on their team’s machinations. This morning brought some chatter n Yahoo! Sports about the Nationals shopping right-hander Tanner

Could defense up the middle make up for loss of Harper’s power bat?

LAS VEGAS - Anyone who’s spent significant time around Mike Rizzo knows that what the Nationals general manager means isn’t always what he says. There’s a subtle subtext to his responses, which are calculated in such a way as to answer a question without revealing too much. Sometimes it’s casual misdirection; other times, it’s completely intentional. But sometimes, a sound byte from Rizzo gives you

Do Nats need to restrict Ross and Fedde’s workloads in 2019?

LAS VEGAS - The Nationals got the frontline starter they’ve long coveted last week when they doled out $140 million to sign Patrick Corbin. Might they still be in the market for some back-of-the-rotation help, though? The Nationals, as currently constructed, have four locks to make their opening day rotation (assuming health for all those involved), with Corbin joining ace Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and

Nats searching for one player to fill holes at first and second base

LAS VEGAS - The Nationals made it a priority each of the last two winters to acquire a left-handed backup first baseman, wanting to make sure they had not only a potent bat off the bench but also a capable slugger who could take over everyday duties if Ryan Zimmerman landed on the disabled list. And each time they struck paydirt, getting major contributions from

Nats not focused on left-handed relief market - for now

LAS VEGAS - His roster may be crying out for a dependable left-handed matchup reliever, but Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo doesn’t consider adding one among the most pressing tasks he has to accomplish at the Winter Meetings. Aside from closer Sean Doolittle, the Nationals bullpen tilts decidedly toward the right side. The other two left-handed holdovers - Matt Grace and Sammy Solís - had

Rizzo won’t rule out possibility of resuming talks with Harper

LAS VEGAS - Mark Lerner’s surprising, if honest, revelation last week that he expects Bryce Harper to sign with another club this winter was met with understandably strong emotions from all those invested in the most significant free agent storyline of the offseason. But within the Nationals front office, it was viewed less as a firm declaration of the club’s resignation to move on from

Hitting lesson with Long, grounds crew experience up for bid

LAS VEGAS - If you want to feel what it’s like to be a member of the media covering the Nationals, get a behind-the-scenes look at what the grounds crew at Nationals Park does or receive a private lesson with Nats hitting coach Kevin Long in the stadium batting cages, get your clicking fingers ready to bid. Beginning this morning, and running through Thursday at

Wondering about Rizzo’s next moves at Winter Meetings

LAS VEGAS - Now that he’s made the big splashes, let’s see if Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo can excel at the small moves that pay sizable dividends. The whirlwind of activity that preceded the Nats’ arrival at the Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino filled most of the team’s glaring weaknesses. Signing Kurt Suzuki as a free agent and trading for

The Harper-Vegas Winter Meetings are here, but who’s bidding?

LAS VEGAS - It’s been circled on the calendar for years, this perfect confluence of baseball’s signature offseason event, Bryce Harper’s first foray into free agency and everything coming together on the Las Vegas Strip, just down the street from Harper’s home. And after all that anticipation and speculation, it’s finally time for this long-awaited spectacle to get underway. The Winter Meetings officially open for

Nats head to Vegas having already filled most roster holes

They’ve already signed the frontline starter they’ve coveted for a long time. They’ve upgraded the catching position with not one but two veteran additions. They’ve added two experienced late-inning relievers. And they’ve done all this before departing for the Winter Meetings. Which begs the question: Do the Nationals even need to go to Las Vegas this week? “You know I love the Winter Meetings,” general

Lerner suggests Harper unlikely to re-sign with Nationals

The odds of Bryce Harper re-signing with the Nationals once he became a free agent always felt long, not with some of baseball’s most iconic and cash-infused franchises certain to be involved in a bidding war for a 26-year-old seeking the biggest contract in American sports history. But it wasn’t until today that a prominent member of the Nationals front office explicitly put into words

Corbin and Nationals hoping for happy marriage

Patrick Corbin could have waited until the Winter Meetings. He could have waited out the market like most free agents do, made prospective teams come to him to make their case for his services and then finally make his selection in January. Such is the luxury afforded the top free agent pitcher of the offseason, but Corbin didn’t feel the need to do any of

Press conference today at Nationals Park

It’s been a while since the Nationals held an offseason press conference on South Capitol Street. The last one came more than a year ago, when Davey Martinez was introduced as the club’s seventh manager in 14 seasons. None of last year’s player acquisitions warranted a full-scale press conference at the ballpark. So today represents a significant moment for the Nats, who have announced a

Harper decision will have domino effect on rest of outfield

There are any number of significant factors the Nationals have to consider in deciding how much they’re willing to offer Bryce Harper to stay in D.C. long term. These are huge questions that impact the franchise both on and off the field for years. There’s a seemingly smaller question, though, that should not be forgotten: What would re-signing Harper do to the rest of the

Answering the questions raised by the Corbin signing

The Nationals’ signing of Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million deal came in fast and furious Tuesday afternoon, the kind of head-spinning transaction that was felt across baseball. It also produced no shortage of follow-up questions. Now that we’ve had some time to digest the news, let’s see if we can come up with some answers to those questions ... Did the Nationals really

Nats land top free agent pitcher Corbin for $140 million

The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Patrick Corbin on a six-year, $140 million deal, according to a club source, landing the biggest free agent pitcher on the market to go along with the already formidable (and expensive) one-two punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The signing is still contingent upon Corbin passing a physical, according to the source, but once it becomes

Pursuit of Corbin underscores Nats’ desire for elite rotation

Their rotation already features two of the most expensive pitchers in baseball history, and now the Nationals are making a push to add a third high-priced arm. This doesn’t necessarily seem to fit in with the prevailing wisdom in Major League Baseball circa 2018. Teams around the sport are de-emphasizing the classic workhorse starter, investing more in deep bullpens and even eschewing starters altogether in

Kendrick expects to be ready for start of spring training

It’s been more than six months since he ruptured his right Achilles tendon on a fluke play in left field at Nationals Park, and Howie Kendrick is just now starting to run on an anti-gravity treadmill. That’s not necessarily cause for concern. Kendrick insisted he’s on schedule in his rehab program from the major injury. His foot feels normal, and he doesn’t find himself favoring

Rendon, Nationals plan to keep talking extension

While the rest of the baseball world tries to figure out where Bryce Harper is going to play in 2019, astute Nationals fans know an equally important question is where Anthony Rendon is going to play in 2020. Eligible for free agency next winter, Rendon now faces the same dilemma Harper faced last winter. In Harper’s case, there was never a doubt he’d play out

Foot healthy again, Doolittle can focus on home repair

Sean Doolittle is spending much of his time right now watching do-it-yourself videos on YouTube. He and his wife, Eireann Dolan, recently bought their first house, and that of course has led to home improvement projects. It’s not exactly Doolittle’s specialty, but he was proud to point out some dried caulk still on the side of his shoe when he met with reporters at Nationals

Lilliquist on Scherzer’s homers, Strasburg’s velocity dip and more

Each winter, Max Scherzer vows he can be better. Well, Nationals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist has something he thinks the three-time Cy Young Award winner can do to improve. “He can keep the ball in the ballpark a little better,” Lilliquist said yesterday at Nationals Winterfest. “He got hurt with a lot of bad breaking balls in kill counts last year. So that’s going to

Zimmerman optimistic he’ll finish career with Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman was drafted by the Nationals in 2005. He made his major league debut that fall. He signed a five-year extension with them in 2009. He signed a $100 million extension with them in 2012. There’s been no reason to question his contract status with the organization since. But that long-term deal was going to expire eventually, and that time is finally drawing near.

Martinez vows to “push the envelope” in second year

As he prepared for his first season as a big league manager, Davey Martinez scanned the Nationals roster and saw names of players with considerable experience and considerable success up and down the list. So Martinez’s instinct was to stay hands off, to trust that these players knew how to prepare and didn’t need a new staff to come in and reinvent the wheel. As

Hardworking Soto gets head start on offseason improvements

What does Juan Soto do for an encore after a rookie season that obliterated records for offensive production by a teenager? The now 20-year-old has a simple plan for making sure he isn’t bitten by a sophomore slump: Keep working hard and try not to change what brought him such instant success in the major leagues. “I think, do my routine, and no change,” Soto

Robles banking on return of his power stroke

There’s a good chance Victor Robles will be patrolling center field for the Nationals in 2019, and if that happens, Robles expects that the powerful stroke that was sapped by an early-season hyperextended left elbow will return. Manager Davey Martinez has hinted at that and hitting coach Kevin Long expects that offensive surge to occur, too. But hearing Robles talk at Nationals Winterfest about the

Gomes surprised but excited by trade to Nationals

When he got a call Friday afternoon from Indians general manager Chris Antonetti saying a trade was in the works, Yan Gomes assumed it involved one of a couple teams. The Mets and Dodgers both had been linked to him in recent days, so he figured he was headed in one of those directions. So what did the 31-year-old catcher think when Antonetti told him

Winterfest returns to Nationals Park

It’s a couple weeks earlier than in previous years, and it’s back on South Capitol Street for the first time in nearly a decade, but it’s time again for Winterfest. The Nationals’ annual offseason gathering will have a different look and feel this year, with the event being held the first weekend in December and at Nationals Park after a steady run later in the

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