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Nationals roster review: Drew Storen

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Nationals roster review: Drew Storen

Age on Opening Day 2015: 28

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2009 draft

MLB service time: 5 years, 140 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $5.7 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2017

2015 stats: 58 G, 55 IP, 45 H, 23 R, 21 ER, 4 HR, 16 BB, 67 K, 1.109 WHIP, 29 SV, 5 BS, 2-2, 3.44 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 0.7 WAR

Quotable: "This last month and the struggles, that's not me. I've had some tough times, but I've also come through and dealt with frustrating times and adversity and gotten through it better. I look forward to it being the same this time." — Drew Storen, Sept. 17

2015 analysis: Drew Storen entered the season as the Nationals' unquestioned closer, and over the ensuing four months he did nothing to suggest he didn't deserve to remain in that role. On July 29, he owned a 1.73 ERA, 29 saves in 31 attempts and a ridiculously low .521 opponents' OPS.

Then the Nationals made their big trade deadline acquisition, getting Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies, and suddenly Storen was bumped to a setup role. Despite his obvious frustration with what he perceived as a demotion, the right-hander initially was effective pitching the eighth inning. He retired the first 12 batters he faced after the Papelbon trade, six via strikeout.

But then came a grand slam surrendered to Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez on August 7, and everything fell apart after that. Storen wound up with a 9.22 ERA over his final 15 appearances, blowing a late lead three times and taking the loss in another game. Then, adding injury to insult, he fractured his thumb when he slammed it against his locker after a particularly difficult loss to the Mets on Sept. 9 and didn't pitch again before season's end.

2016 outlook: This might be the most fascinating personnel decision the Nationals face this winter. Given the way things played out following the Papelbon trade — this on the heels of the Rafael Soriano signing in 2013 — Storen might well have seen his time in D.C. come to an end. Fair or unfair, he has no reason to believe the Nationals trust him to close again. At this point, a change of scenery might be necessary.

What, though, can the Nats reasonably expect if they dangle Storen in a trade offer? He's entering his walk year, he stands to make good money via the arbitration process and he now has melted down twice after his team acquired another closer to take his job. Opposing teams will know all of this before ever engaging in trade discussions.

Is there a chance Storen could remain in Washington in 2016? Sure, though he may always be looking over his shoulder, waiting for another vote of no confidence in him. If he can overcome all this and recapture his top form again, all credit to the right-hander.

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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

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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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