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Nationals prospect spotlight: Trea Turner

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Nationals prospect spotlight: Trea Turner

Age on Opening Day 2016: 22

How acquired: Trade with Padres, Dec. 2014

Position: Infielder

Prospect Rank: No. 2 in Nats' org. (Baseball America)

2015 Level/Team: AA-San Antonio (Padres), AA-Harrisburg, AAA-Syracuse, MLB-Nationals

2015 Stats: (minors) 116 G, 500 PA, 454 AB, 68 R, 146 H, 24 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 29 SB, 6 CS, 38 BB, 97 SO, .322 BA, .370 OBP, .458 SLG, .828 OPS / (majors) 27 G, 44 PA, 40 AB, 5 R, 9 H, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 4 BB, 12 SO, .225 BA, .295 OBP, .325 SLG, .620 OPS

2015 Analysis: The 2015 season was about as unusual as it gets for Trea Turner. The former first round pick had to spend the first half of the season in the Padres organization, even after getting traded to Washington in a three-team deal in December. The reason was a now-extinct rule that forced teams to keep draft picks for a full year before trading them. So, until June, Turner was considered a PTNBL for the Nationals while playing for the Double-A San Antonio Missions.

Turner did well there and then finally joined the Nationals midseason to make his Harrisburg Senators debut on June 16. He would then last only 10 games there before getting promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he also thrived. Across 116 games with three minor league affiliates, Turner hit .322 with 29 steals and earned himself an early call-up to the majors with the Nationals in August.

Turner played sparingly with the Nationals, especially at first, but ended up appearing in 27 total games. He flashed an ability to hit for contact and blazing speed, which could help transform the Nats' lineup next season if utilized correctly.

2016 Outlook: Turner didn't play a lot in 2015, but he laid a nice foundation for a bigger role in 2016. And now that Ian Desmond is expected to leave in free agency, an opening may be there for Turner to become a starting middle infielder for the Nationals.

Whether Turner makes the team out of spring is undetermined at this point. They still have a bit of a logjam with Danny Espinosa coming off a strong year, Wilmer Difo in the mix and questions as to where Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon will play. The Nats could bring Turner to Washington out of spring, or they could choose to start Espinosa and give Turner some more seasoning at Triple-A.

That said, right now it would seem Turner's odds of making the Opening Day roster are good. He was acquired to replace Desmond and would arguably give the Nats their best lineup, whether he plays at shortstop or at second base.

A lot could also depend on what the Nationals do this offseason. If they decide to sell high on Escobar and trade him this winter, that would open up spots for both Turner and Espinosa to start. If they move forward with what they currently have, then Turner will be likely be battling Espinosa for a starting job in spring and ultimately play plenty of games, however they decide to use him.

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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