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Maddux pencils Roark into starting rotation for next season

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Maddux pencils Roark into starting rotation for next season

The departure of Jordan Zimmermann this offseason marks a significant loss to the Nationals' pitching rotation, one of the main strengths of the team since its ascension into a playoff contender. But does general manger Mike Rizzo now need to find a replacement?

Not according to new Mike Maddux. He believes the team already has a fifth starter on the roster.

"What an inventory of arms over here," Maddux told reporters at Nats Winterfest. "I look at a rotation that features Max Scherzer up top, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, Tanner Roark; everybody's got their own little shtick going on there."

When talking about the staff he now inherits as the team's new pitching coach, Maddux was perhaps the most complimentary towards Roark.

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Roark emerged as a starter in 2014 and pitched exceptionally well, compiling a 15-10 record and a 2.85 ERA which was better than both Stephen Strasburg (3.14) and Gio Gonzalez (3.57). Roark move back to the bullpen last season, but what he did in 2014 certainly seemed to resonate with Maddux.

"He's come out of nowhere a couple years ago and won 15 ballgames," Maddux said, "And then there was some acquisitions and some health, some resurgence of guys added to the roster last year that kind of knocked him out, but you've got to admire a guy like him. Holy cow. I mean, talk about the typical blue collar laymen that goes out and wins 15 ballgames and makes a little notch in his belt for him, that's pretty good, man."

So good, in fact, that when asked if he thought Roark would be the team's fifth starter next season to replace Zimmermann, Maddux said, "Why not? It's his job to lose."

That of course will depend on whether general manager Mike Rizzo agrees. Should he seek an established starting pitcher this offseason, it will be tough to justify keeping Roark in the rotation. But if Rizzo listens to his new pitching coach and to the sentiments of the team, it becomes clear that starting pitching does not need to be on the Rizzo's to do list this winter.

"Hopefully Tanner will get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation again," Strasburg said.

Maddux agrees. "I'm rooting for him big time."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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