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Looking at Nats' roster and needs midway through offseason

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Looking at Nats' roster and needs midway through offseason

With New Year's Day now behind us and six more weeks until spring training, we are now just three months away from Opening Day. Since three months have passed since the Nationals played their last game, we have essentially reached the midway point of the 2015-16 offseason. 

That seems like a good time to take a look at the Nats' roster as it currently stands. Much can and will likely happen before they travel to Viera, Fl., but here is an update on what they have now with an eye on what they still need to accomplish this winter…

LINEUP
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
CF Michael Taylor
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa

After signing Murphy to play second base, the Nationals' lineup is starting to really take shape. The group above could very well be the guys we see trot out on April 4 in their first game in Atlanta. Right now Espinosa projects as the starting shortstop, but that could also be Trea Turner's spot, if he beats out Espinosa in spring training.

The biggest question regarding the Nats' lineup is Taylor's spot in center field. That's because the Nats have been aggressive this offseason in trying to acquire an outfielder. They offered upwards of $200 million to Jason Heyward before he chose to sign with the Cubs. You don't go throwing around 200 mil just because you're somewhat interested in upgrading a position. That was a clear indication they are not happy with their current group.

For most of this offseason, it has made sense that the Nats would go for a lefty-hitting outfielder. But now that they have Murphy, that theory has changed. With Murphy, they could have three left-handed batters in their lineup when they face righties with Harper and Espinosa, who bats switch. That could open the door for a righty-hitting outfielder like Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes, who remain unsigned.

ROTATION
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RHP Joe Ross
RHP Tanner Roark

The Nationals' rotation is another group that could change before pitchers and catchers report in Viera. The Nats have a solid group one through five, but that's what we said this time last year before they signed Scherzer. This offseason they have not been linked to any big name pitchers aside from Mike Leake, but they can always trade for a starter. With Strasburg set to be a free agent after 2016, it might be wise to acquire another arm this offseason. The free agent class next winter is not a good one and, if Strasburg walks, they will be left with some question marks in their rotation outside of Scherzer.

BENCH

C Jose Lobaton
1B/OF Clint Robinson
INF Stephen Drew
1B/OF Tyler Moore
OF Matt den Dekker

The Nats are looking towards 2016 with some considerable depth in terms of bench options. Now that they have signed veteran Stephen Drew, they will not be forced to rely much at all on young players like Turner and Wilmer Difo. That's not to say they won't make an impact, but the Nats have a nice foundation of veteran options to turn to first before they have to promote a prospect.

One thing to note is how lefty-heavy the Nats' bench currently is. Robinson, Drew and den Dekker all bat lefty and Lobaton hits switch. Moore is the only right-handed hitter currently projected to make the Nats' bench. Turner could change that, though, if he makes the roster out of spring.

Behind Lobaton, the Nationals have some solid catching depth with Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino on the 40-man roster. They also brought back Jhonatan Solano. One could argue they are deeper at catcher than they have ever been.

BULLPEN
RHP Jonathan Papelbon
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Shawn Kelley
RHP Blake Treinen
LHP Oliver Perez
LHP Felipe Rivero
RHP Trevor Gott
(RHP Yusmeiro Petit)

The Nats' bullpen is a crowded group at this point, but we all know things could change dramatically if they are able to trade Papelbon and/or Storen. With the additions they have made, they currently have eight relievers expected to be in the majors next season, whether that is in Washington or elsewhere. That's why I have Petit listed above in parentheses. This is supposed to be a look at the 25-man roster, but I technically cheated. Okay?

Putting all these names on paper, however, does help further demonstrate the need for the Nats to get rid of either Papelbon or Storen. Simply looking at the numbers, they would have to make a tough decision as to who to keep when they break camp. If the season started tomorrow, that could mean going with a short bench or leaving one of their MLB-ready relievers to start in the minors.

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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