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Nats players insist Papelbon-Harper situation will not linger

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Nats players insist Papelbon-Harper situation will not linger

When the Nationals sent out their media availability for players for this weekend's WinterFest, there were two notable absences. Off the list were both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen, the team's two very talented late-inning relief pitchers whose futures with the franchise are complicated for much more than simple baseball reasons.

Both Papelbon and Storen, it is widely known, could be traded this offseason; Papelbon because of his infamous attack on Bryce Harper in the team's dugout, and Storen because he has now twice been supplanted as closer and is probably best served by a change of scenery.

Besides the fact having both players at WinterFest may have been awkward, as every fan within an earshot would ask them about their futures, the reason given by the team was that each had something else to do. Papelbon was traveling out of the country on a pre-planned trip. And Storen had an undisclosed prior commitment.

Despite both players not being there, Papelbon in particular still had a presence at the event. Several off his teammates were asked about the veteran closer and if the altercation he had with Harper would cause any trouble next season, if Papelbon happens to still be on the roster come 2016.

The consensus on that question seems to be an emphatic 'no.' In their eyes, the dust-up between Harper and Papelbon was not nearly as bad as it looked, at least when put in the context of other disagreements common for a baseball clubhouse.

"I think it would have been weird if nothing like that happened. We should have been upset and should have been frustrated," Ryan Zimmerman said.

"Not that I would condone some of the stuff that happened, but I think it would have been weird if everyone was in a good mood, happy and high-fiveing each other. It's just one of those things where all of us were frustrated. We were trying as hard as we could to win and we weren't winning. A lot of us were battling through injuries. There were a lot of variables going on. People get upset. I think that kind of shows you what kind of team we have. I don't think we need to fight each other all the time. Sometimes that happens. But I didn't have a problem with anything that happened."

"It happens. I'm not worried. It doesn't bother me at all," Danny Espinosa said. "If you took your 24 other best friends and put them in a clubhouse, you guys will fight each other. If you guys had siblings growing up, you love your siblings to death but you guys fought. It happens. It's part of it. The unfortunate part of it is that it happened in front of the cameras. To me, that doesn't bother me. It's part of it. If you work a regular job, you don't get along with every single person you work with. That doesn't mean you won't work together. You're going to have disagreements. Even the guys that you love, you're going to have disagreements with. You have the highest level of baseball player with huge egos throughout baseball, like all professional athletes are. You have guys that have separate opinions. Now, clash those together. What are you going to get? You're going to get arguments and you're going to get fights. We're grown men."

"I think what people don't see is all the things that go on behind close doors," Jayson Werth explained. "I think that the cameras were on and everybody got to see it so that's why it's a bigger deal. Those things happen. People have disagreements and arguments. We're a big group of men that have pretty much been by each other's sides for months. There are going to be some disagreements. Fights happen. Even brothers fight. I don't think it's as big of a deal as everybody thinks it is. It will be fine. The bottom line is that we've got games to win. Petty little fights, they happen. But they don't last long in our minds. For fans and and the media, that's all they got so they run with it. But to us, I think that was over not long after it happened."

The Nationals still remain intent on shopping Papelbon, but at this point there is no guarantee they can get a worthy return in any deal. They will likely have to wait until the free agent and trade markets for relievers play out for his value to start rising again.

But even if they can't end up trading Papelbon, it sounds like many in the organization have prepared themselves for the possibility he will return to the team in 2016, if that's how the chips fall.

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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.

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