Nationals

Quick Links

Angels quietly restocking after pitching losses

Angels quietly restocking after pitching losses

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) With three-fifths of their starting rotation gone, the Los Angeles Angels have been busy plugging holes and upgrading a bullpen that routinely surrendered leads last season.

They introduced new pitchers Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson on Wednesday, along with relievers Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson - both of whom are coming off surgery.

General manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels' staff is deeper than it was last season, despite the losses of starters Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Greinke moved up the freeway to join the rival Dodgers in a $147 million, six-year deal that left Dipoto defending Blanton, who has not been higher than the fifth starter in recent years. He signed for $15 million and two years.

``What Joe represents to us is stability and a winning player. We need it,'' Dipoto said. ``We'll let time tell how impactful he can be on this club. Joe fit our needs and did it in a way we wanted to create depth.''

Last year, the Angels created a splash by signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason. This year, their aim was much more modest.

``Our goal was to create 1 through 12 pitching depth,'' Dipoto said. ``I don't feel like anything else is imminent and anything else is required.''

Blanton will earn $6.5 million next season and $7.5 million in 2014. The Angels hold a club option for $8 million in 2015 with a $1 million buyout. His contract includes performance bonuses of $100,000 for 180 innings, and $200,000 each for 190 and 200 innings. It also includes award bonuses for making the All-Star team ($50,000), winning the Cy Young Award ($150,000), winning a Gold Glove ($75,000), being MVP of the league championship series ($75,000) and being World Series MVP ($100,000).

The 32-year-old right-hander was 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA last season and a career-best 166 strikeouts in 31 games split between Philadelphia and the Dodgers. Blanton pitched in the postseason in five of the last seven years and was on Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship team.

``All I care about is winning and hopefully going to a World Series,'' he said. ``I know what I can do. If there's four guys on staff better than me I'm not unhappy because that means we're good.''

The Angels acquired right-hander Hanson from Atlanta for reliever Jordan Walden. He and Blanton will fill the starting spots of Santana, who was traded to Kansas City, and Haren, who signed with Washington as a free agent. The Angels pursued Greinke, but he said Tuesday that the Dodgers and Texas were the teams in the hunt until the very end.

``Zack is a Dodger and we wish him well,'' Dipoto said. ``We're going to focus on our needs and put ourselves in the best position to win.''

Hanson and Blanton will join a rotation anchored by Jered Weaver and Wilson, who is recovering from surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow.

``Our rotation has an element of experience that is going to be important,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``These are two great guys (Weaver and Wilson) to work off of. These guys are all going to pitch to a certain point in the game. We'll hold leads much better than last season.''

The Angels upgraded their bullpen with the additions of free agents Madson and Burnett joining Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen and Scott Downs. Burnett signed for $8 million and two years, getting a $250,000 signing bonus.

The 30-year-old left-hander made 70 relief appearances for the NL East champion Washington Nationals last season, with a 1-2 record, two saves and a 2.38 ERA. He had 57 strikeouts.

Burnett will earn $3.5 million next season, $3.75 million in 2014 and the Angels hold a $4.5 million club option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout. The option becomes guaranteed if Burnett has 110 games pitched in 2013-14 and he doesn't spent time on the disabled list in 2014 because of a left arm injury.

Burnett had bone spurs in his elbow that affected him late in the season. He underwent surgery after the playoffs.

``My elbow is fine,'' he said. ``I've thrown four or five times in the last few weeks. It feels better and looser. I'll be ready for spring training.''

Burnett's contract includes performance bonuses for 2013 and 2014 of $100,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 games pitched, and $125,000 for 60 games pitched.

His contract includes award bonuses of $50,000 for making the All-Star team, $75,000 for a Gold Glove, $75,000 for being named league championship series MVP, $100,000 for World Series MVP honors, and $150,000 for earning the Rolaids Relief award.

Madson is coming back from elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

``I'm either on pace or a little ahead in rehab. I feel confident come April I'll be 100 percent,'' he said. ``I feel like I can throw hard but that ligament isn't ready. It needs to become pliable, so just patience with it.''

---

AP Sports Writer Ron Blum in New York contributed to this report.

Quick Links

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

Its 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

Quick Links

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

usatsi_9977852.jpg
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