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2016 MLB roster outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

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2016 MLB roster outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

2015 record: 93-69, 1st place in AL East

Manager: John Gibbons, 4th season 

Key additions: RP Drew Storen, SP JA Happ, RP/SP Gavin Floyd 

Key losses: SP David Price, OF Ben Revere 

Projected lineup:

CF Kevin Pillar

3B Josh Donaldson

RF Jose Bautista 

DH Edwin Encarnacion

SS Troy Tulowitzki 

1B Chris Colabello 

LF Michael Saunders

C Russell Martin

2B Ryan Goins 

Projected rotation:

RHP Marcus Stroman

RHP R.A. Dickey

LHP J.A. Happ 

RHP Marco Estrada 

RHP Aaron Sanchez 

Top relievers:

CL Roberto Osuna

RP Drew Storen 

LHP Bret Cecil 

Biggest questions entering 2016

1. Will the pitching still be there?

The Blue Jays went all-in last year, getting David Price from the Detroit Tigers at the deadline on their way to their first AL East title in two decades. As if losing to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS wasn't bad enough, Price didn't stick around, signing a 7-year, $217 million contract with an AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox. People may have forgotten about Marcus Stroman, their young ace who the missed the entire 2015 regular season after tearing his ACL in spring training. Stroman, finally healthy this season, has electric stuff and at only 24, is the type of young ace that most teams can only dream about. After that, however, the rotation gets iffy. R.A. Dickey isn't getting any younger and hasn't been nearly the pitcher he was in during his Cy Young season in New York after coming over in a trade with the Mets. 5th starter Aaron Sanchez is a first round draft pick and one of the Jays' top prospects, but other than that, Toronto is looking to defend their title with a rotation that includes J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman. Their offense will allow the rotation get away with the occasional bad start, but in a division that includes three of the top 10 best offenses in baseball, one ace and a bunch of spare parts may not be enough. 

2. How deep is the offense?

Toronto's starting nine are going to mash, no question about it. Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion and Tulowitzki are unquestionably baseball's most dangerous 2-6 lineup, and players like Colabello, Martin and Pillar all have serious power potential. The problem, then, is when any number of those guys needs a rest day or worse, gets hurt. When your best power bat off the bench is Justin Smoak, you better hope and pray that no one misses serious time with an injury. The Jays can probably withstand losing one hitter, but if any two of the 2-6 hitters are out for a while, things start to get dicey. 

3. Is the window closing?

It seems like a crazy question considering the relatively recent rise of the team and just how good they are, but a closer look at the situation might have some fans north of the border sweating a little. Jose Bautista is 35 and rumors have already surfaced that he wants somewhere close to $30 million per year in his next contract, a number that Toronto is presumably no where close to comfortable with. Encarnacion is two years younger, but even a 33 year DH isn't worth investing a lot of years and even more money into. To add insult to injury, GM Alex Anthopoulous, the architect of this team as currently constructed, is no longer running the team. Mark Shapiro took over the team last August and almost immediately replaced Anthopoulous with Ross Atkins. Shapiro and his administration aren't attached to any of these players, and if the Blue Jays suddenly don't live up to expectations, it wouldn't be surprising to see Shapiro ship them off for prospects while they still hold some value. 

[RELATED:CSN reporters and analysts make 2016 Nats predictions]

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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

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm