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Important offseason dates to consider for the Nationals


Important offseason dates to consider for the Nationals

This offseason should be a big one for the Nationals, who first have to find their new manager. They also have four key impending free agents to make decisions on. After that, they will have a bullpen to reconstruct and some tough calls to make when retooling their lineup.

Here is a look at some important days to anticipate throughout the long and wintry road to Opening Day:

Important dates for front office

Five days after World Series - Deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to pending free agents
12 days after World Series - Deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers
November 9-12 - General managers' meetings (Boca Raton, Fl.)
November 20 - Reserve lists for Rule 5 draft submitted
December 7-10 - Winter Meetings (Nashville, Tn.)
December 10 - Rule 5 draft
December 12-13 - Nationals Winterfest
January 12 - Salary arbitration filing
January 15 - Salary arbitration figures exchanged
February 1-21 - Salary arbitration hearings

The Nationals are in the middle of a managerial search, one they certainly hope will be completed by the time the GM meetings take place on Nov. 9. That's when the true Hot Stove season will commence and the Nats have a long to-do list to tackle once it does.

The qualifying offer was released by MLB on Friday and it sits at $15.8 million. The four names to watch as to whether the Nats will extend a QO are Denard Span, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann. Desmond and Zimmermann will probably get them, as both are likely to decline the money and test free agency, therefore giving the Nationals a compensation draft pick. There are much bigger questions surrounding Span and Fister, who both did not have the years they hoped for in the final seasons of their respective deals.

For arbitration in January and February, there are a few names to keep in mind for the Nationals. The big ones are Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos and Drew Storen. All three could be in line for big raises before the 2016 season kicks off. It is unusual for the Natioanls to go to arbitration hearings, so it's safe to expect that trio to reach agreements ahead of time. Storen, for one, could be traded before it evens gets to that. Also arbitration-eligible are Craig Stammen, Tyler Moore, Danny Espinosa and Jose Lobaton.

The Rule 5 draft is on the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings which take place in Nashville this year. Here is the Nats' recent history in the Rule 5 draft:

2014 - Did not select or lose any players
2013 - Lost C Adrian Nieto to Chicago White Sox
2012 - Lost LHP Danny Rosenbaum to Rockies (returned to Nats), lost Jeff Kobernus to Boston Red Sox (traded to Tigers, returned to Nats)
2011 - Lost OF Erik Komatsu to Cardinals (claimed off waivers by Twins, returned to Nats)
2010 - Selected RHP Elvin Ramirez from Mets (returned), lost IF Michael Martinez to Phillies, selected RHP Brian Broderick from Cardinals (returned)

Award season

(Official dates are TBA, but these are likely)
Nov. 9 - Rookie of the Year awards announced
Nov. 10 - Manager of the Year awards announced
Nov. 11 - Cy Young awards announced
Nov. 12 - Most Valuable Player awards announced

The Nationals may not be participating in this year's postseason, but there could be a very big reason for their fans to pay attention to the MLB awards this November. Bryce Harper is the favorite to win the NL MVP award after posting a historic season at the age of 22.

Harper will have to beat out Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta and Dodgers starter Zack Greinke could also make things interesting after the duo finished the season with sub-2.00 ERAs.

Gold Gloves are usually given out at the end of October and they can be hard to predict. Harper, it would seem, has a chance to win one for NL right fielders. He is basically a lock to win the Silver Slugger for the position, as well. Those are usually handed out in the first week of November.

Max Scherzer will surely get some votes for NL Cy Young, though he doesn't have a realistic shot at finishing very high on the list. Arrieta, Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will likely hold the top three spots.

NL Rookie of the Year is another spot where the Nats could see some votes. Outfielder Michael Taylor may end up on the list for NL rookies and Joe Ross could as well.

Yet to be announced

Feb. TBA - Pitchers and catchers report

2016 regular season

April 7 - Opening Day at Braves

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.