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Pool of available relievers for Nats keeps thinning

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Pool of available relievers for Nats keeps thinning

NASHVILLE — Here’s the biggest dilemma facing the Nationals at the Winter Meetings, which officially began this morning: They desperately need to acquire quality, late-inning relievers while at the same time they desperately need to deal away a couple of quality, late-inning relievers.

Does this meet the definition of irony?

Mike Rizzo and Co. are juggling a bunch of different balls in the air right now. They’re trying to gauge what interest there could be in Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon, fully recognizing the challenges involved in moving either disgruntled closer. They’re also talking to just about every available late-inning reliever, both via free agency and trade.

So far, they’ve come up short on both ends. There should be some legitimate interest in Storen, though it’s tough to say how much the Nationals can reasonably expect to receive in exchange for a reliever entering his walk year and due to earn close to $9 million in 2016 via arbitration. It’s hard to imagine there’s much of any interest, however, in Papelbon, who in addition to making $11 million in 2016 comes with all sorts of baggage, the latest being the grievance he reportedly has filed against the Nats for withholding his pay during their team-imposed 4-game suspension at season’s end.

As far as the search for new relievers goes, the challenge is only getting tougher by the hour. Darren O’Day’s 4-yeal deal with the Orioles isn’t official yet, but it’s expected to be finalized soon. Ryan Madson signed a 3-year deal with the Athletics. Joakim Soria just signed a 3-year deal with the Royals.

And on the trade front, the big shoe just dropped this morning: The Reds are sending Aroldis Chapman to the Dodgers, according to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. The Nationals have long been interested in Chapman, including at the July trade deadline, but could not come up with a package of prospects to meet Cincinnati’s demands.

So where exactly does that leave the Nats at this point? It’s not a pretty picture.

The best remaining available free-agent relievers include old pal Tyler Clippard, veteran right-hander Mark Lowe and lefties Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo. No closers in that bunch (with all due respect to Clippard).

There are a few remaining trade candidates. Mark Melancon of the Pirates would be intriguing, though he’s entering his walk year. The Rays’ Brad Boxberger (who saved 41 games this season) may be available, and he has four years of control remaining. There are rumblings that the Yankees could be willing to move Andrew Miller (who is signed for three more years and $27 million). And perhaps Kenley Jansen (suddenly in position to get “Storen-ed” with today’s acquisition of Chapman) could force the Dodgers to trade him.

None of those names, of course, are sure things or easily acquired. And so the Nationals find themselves exactly where they were at season’s end: They desperately want to acquire quality, late-inning relievers while at the same time desperately wanting to trade away a couple of quality, late-inning relievers.

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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