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Nats in discussions with Kelley, but no deal yet

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Nats in discussions with Kelley, but no deal yet

NASHVILLE — The Nationals have been in discussions with right-hander Shawn Kelley at the Winter Meetings, general manager Mike Rizzo said, but the club has not come to terms with the free-agent reliever yet.

“We have not completed a deal with Kelly, no,” Rizzo said during his Tuesday afternoon session with reporters at the Opryland Resort.

The Nationals have made no secret about their interest in overhauling their bullpen this winter and have talked with just about every available free agent, as well as clubs willing to listen to trade offers for relievers. Kelley wouldn’t necessarily fall at the top of their wish list, but he would fill a need as a middle reliever and possible setup man.

Kelley, who turns 32 in April, owns a 3.67 ERA in 289 career big-league appearances with the Mariners, Yankees and Padres but is coming off a breakthrough season in San Diego in which he posted a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 53 games.

Kelley doesn’t have overpowering stuff — his fastball has consistently averaged about 92 mph over his career — but he does own one of baseball’s best strikeout rates (more than 11 per 9 innings each of the last three years) thanks to a hard-breaking slider, a pitch he threw 55 percent of the time this season.

In Washington, Kelley could take over the role held the last two seasons by Aaron Barrett (another right-handed middle man who relies on his slider but will miss the majority of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery).

Though they have yet to land a big-name, back-of-the-bullpen arm this winter, the Nationals have begun to assemble some other pieces necessary to rebuild their relief corps. In addition to Kelley, they signed veteran left-hander Oliver Perez to a 2-year, $7 million deal last week, as well as former Nats lefty Sean Burnett to a minor-league contract.

The big questions, of course, remain at the back end of the pen. The Nationals have been fielding offers for both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen, though to date they haven’t found a deal they’re willing to make. At the same time, they have been pursuing experienced late-inning options like Darren O’Day (who signed with the Orioles for 4 years and $31 million) and Aroldis Chapman (whose reported trade to the Dodgers has been held up amid allegations of domestic assault by the Cincinnati closer).

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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.

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