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Nationals roster review: Jonathan Papelbon

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Nationals roster review: Jonathan Papelbon

Age on Opening Day 2016: 35

How acquired: Trade from Philadelphia for RHP Nick Pivetta, July 2015

MLB service time: 10 years, 64 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $13 million

Contract status: Signed for $11 million in 2016 ($3 million to be deferred until 2017), free agent in 2017

2015 stats: 59 G, 63.1 IP, 53 H, 22 R, 15 ER, 7 HR, 12 BB, 56 K, 1.026 WHIP, 4-3, 2.13 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 1.4 WAR

Quotable: "I think for the most part he has fit into the clubhouse culture fine. You can ask the players in there. I think they respect what he's done in the game and the way he prepares and goes about his business. I'm not going to judge his entire body, his whole career, by this one incident. It was unfortunate and unacceptable. And I think the suspension says that." — Mike Rizzo, after the Nationals suspended Jonathan Papelbon for the final week of the season

2015 analysis: Needing to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run, the Nationals made about as bold a move as possible at the time: They traded not for the setup man most assumed they wanted but instead for one of the most-established closers in baseball. Papelbon's on-field track record (342 career saves and a 2.35 ERA, not to mention 17 saves and a 1.59 ERA in Philadelphia over the previous four months) was impeccable. The question was how his addition would affect suddenly demoted closer Drew Storen and how Papelbon's personality would blend into the Nationals' clubhouse.

The answer, of course, was not a positive one. Storen moped about his change of roles and then imploded pitching the eighth inning. Papelbon did pitch well at the outset, successfully converting his first six save opportunities and allowing only three earned runs in 15 innings. But then he imploded himself, blowing back-to-back save chances and also losing two other games, surrendering five earned runs in his final 8 2/3 innings of the season.

All of that, however, wound up taking a backseat to Papelbon's clashing with teammates down the stretch. It began with him intentionally throwing at Manny Machado's head in what the reliever thought was a show of support for his team after Machado's exuberant celebration for a game-changing homer. And then it culminated with Papelbon barking at Bryce Harper for (in his estimation) not running out a routine popup, leading to heated words between the two and Papelbon grabbing the presumptive NL MVP by the throat to instigate a dugout tussle.

That incident led the Nationals to suspend Papelbon for the remainder of the season, leaving his future with the organization in question.

2016 outlook: One of the primary reasons Rizzo traded for Papelbon was the fact he was already under contract for 2016. The Nationals even got him to agree to reduce his salary from $13 million to $11 million, with $3 million of that deferred until 2017. Now, though, there are serious doubts whether the club can bring him back after what happened.

Rizzo said that matter would be addressed after the season, a decision that likely has taken a backseat to the Nationals' ongoing managerial search. At some point, though, Rizzo and the organization as a whole have to decide how to proceed with Papelbon. Can he return in 2016 and make amends with Harper and the rest of the roster, or is it too late for reconciliation?

If he returns, the Nationals have their closer, hoping Papelbon resembles the guy from the vast majority of his career and not the final two weeks of 2015. If he doesn't, the Nats will be on the hook for a whole lot of money. Perhaps Rizzo can find another club willing to make a trade for Papelbon, but that scenario would probably require the Nationals to assume a decent amount of his salary. If they outright release him, they would be responsible for his entire salary.

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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