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Nats decline options on pair of veterans


Nats decline options on pair of veterans

The Nationals declined to pick up contract options for reliever Casey Janssen and outfielder Nate McLouth on Monday, making both veterans free agents along with six others who officially hit the market on the day after the World Series ended.

Janssen and McLouth join right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, shortstop Ian Desmond, center fielder Denard Span, left-hander Matt Thornton and infielder Dan Uggla as new free agents.

The Nationals have until 5 p.m. Friday to make qualifying offers to the latter six. They are all but guaranteed to make the offer (a 1-year contract worth roughly $15.8 million) to Zimmermann and Desmond but must decide whether to do likewise to Span and Fister.

If a player accepts the offer — and none have in three years since MLB instituted this system — he returns to the club one that 1-year contract. If a player declines the offer, the club then receives draft-pick compensation once the player signs with a new team.

Zimmermann and Desmond are certain to command significant long-term offers this winter, so there’s no reason to believe either would accept the qualifying offer. The market for Span and Fister, though, is less clear after disappointing 2015 seasons that saw bother former stalwarts deal with injuries and Fister deal with a demotion to the bullpen due to poor performance. Either could consider accepting a qualifying offer from the Nationals and attempt to reestablish his value with a bounce-back season before becoming a free agent again next winter.

The decisions to decline contract options on Janssen and McLouth were fairly straightforward.

Janssen was a disappointment this season after signing a deal last winter that paid him $3.5 million to be the Nationals’ new setup man following Tyler Clippard’s trade to Oakland. The 34-year-old right-hander went 2-5 with a 4.95 ERA (his highest since 2009) in 48 appearances, never fully earning former manager Matt Williams’ trust to pitch in high-leverage situations.

Janssen’s contract included a $7 million mutual option for 2016. The Nationals declined their end of that option, but in doing so picked up a $1.5 million buyout. Thus, Janssen wound up costing the club $5 million for one season on the mound.

McLouth’s 2-year deal proved a bigger mistake for the Nationals, who were counting on the veteran to be a reliable fourth outfielder who could step into a starting role in case of injuries to the likes of Span, Jayson Werth or Bryce Harper. McLouth, though, hit a paltry .173 with one homer, seven RBI and a .517 OPS in 79 games in 2014 before requiring right shoulder surgery for a torn labrum. He never returned to play this season, requiring another surgery on the shoulder.

Thus, the Nationals wound up paying McLouth a total of $10.75 million ($5 million apiece in 2014 and 2015, plus a $750,000 buyout instead of a $6.5 million club option for 2016).

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.