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2016 MLB roster outlook: St. Louis Cardinals

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2016 MLB roster outlook: St. Louis Cardinals

2015 record: 100-62, 1st place in NL Central

Manager: Mike Matheny, 5th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $144.1 million

Key additions: SP Mike Leake, 2B Jedd Gyorko, RP Seung-hwan

Key losses: OF Jason Heyward, SP John Lackey, RP Steve Cishek, 1B/3B Mark Reynolds

Projected lineup

3B Matt Carpenter
RF Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Randal Grichuk
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SS Ruben Tejada

Projected rotation

RHP Adam Wainwright
RHP Michael Wacha
RHP Mike Leake
LHP Jaime Garcia
RHP Carlos Martinez

Top relievers

CL Trevor Rosenthal
LHP Kevin Siegrist
RHP Jonathan Broxton

Biggest questions entering 2016

1. Can they hold off the Cubs and PiratesThe Cardinals were the best team in baseball in 2015, as the only club to reach the century mark at 100 wins. But, amazingly, they were just two games ahead of the second place team in the NL Central, the Cubs, and just three games ahead of the Pirates, who finished third. It was the most competitive division baseball has seen in years and all three teams are expected to be right back in the playoff mix this season. The Cubs grabbed Jason Heyward and Jon Lackey in free agency and are predicted by Vegas to win the World Series. They look like an absolute powerhouse. The Pirates are also very good with three consecutive playoff berths. The Cardinals have the talent to repeat as division champs, but it will not be an easy task.

2. Can Martinez get even betterThe Cardinals have high hopes for 24-year-old starter Carlos Martinez, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2015 and made the All-Star team. He went 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA in 184 strikeouts in 179 2/3 innings. Martinez lights up radar guns with a fastball that reaches 100 miles per hour. He's also coming off a fantastic spring training. It would not be surprising at all to see him get even better this season and compete for the NL Cy Young award.

3. Can Piscotty make up for Heyward's loss? The biggest loss for the Cardinals this offseason was easily Heyward, who finished 15th in NL MVP voting and earned his third Gold Glove award in his only season in St. Louis. He not only left, but joined the rival Cubs, which should present an interesting dynamic for years to come. The Cardinals, however, do have a pretty solid replacement in Stephen Piscotty, a former first round pick. He hit .305/.359/.494 with seven homers and 39 RBI in 63 games as a rookie last season. He has big shoes to fill in right field - particularly on defense - but Piscotty has the tools to be a solid player who gets on base at a high clip.

[Roster info via RosterResource.com]

[RELATED: Nationals trade Tyler Moore to Braves for 1B Freiman]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE