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Stammen a free agent after Nats non-tender him


Stammen a free agent after Nats non-tender him

The Nationals chose not to tender a 2016 contract to Craig Stammen before Wednesday night’s deadline, a move that makes the popular-but-rehabbing reliever a free agent but doesn’t necessarily preclude him from re-signing with the organization that drafted him a decade ago.

Facing a midnight deadline on six remaining arbitration-eligible players, the Nationals made the easy decisions to tender contracts to Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Wilson Ramos, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa.

The decision wasn’t so easy on Stammen, who missed nearly all of the 2015 season following major arm surgery and is something of a question mark entering 2016.

In the end, the Nationals chose not to tender Stammen a contract, unwilling to make the financial commitment that would have required. Stammen, who made $2.25 million this season, likely would have been in line for a modest raise. At worst, he would have been guaranteed 80 percent of his previous salary ($1.8 million) despite his injury-plagued 2015.

The 31-year-old appeared in only five games in April before reporting pain in his throwing arm. An MRI later revealed a torn flexor tendon, which required season-ending surgery.

If Stammen can make a full recovery and recapture his pre-injury form, he could be a key piece to a Nationals bullpen in need of reliable arms. No pitcher in the majors threw more relief innings from 2012-14 than Stammen, who posted a strong 2.94 ERA during that timeframe.

There’s no guarantee he will return to that form, though, so the Nationals chose to let their 12th round pick from their inaugural 2005 draft become a free agent one season before he would have accrued enough service time to qualify.

The Nationals could still re-sign Stammen to a contract with a lower base salary but incentives based on appearances. A source familiar with the decision said the reliever wouldn’t rule out that possibility but doesn’t necessarily expect an offer to be made and is prepared to sign elsewhere this winter.

If this is the end of Stammen’s time in D.C., he’ll be remembered fondly for his conversion after several seasons as a struggling starter into one of baseball’s most effective and durable relievers. He ranks sixth in club history in both appearances (229) and innings pitched (490 2/3), seventh in wins (26) and strikeouts (370).

The five players who were tendered contracts Wednesday aren’t yet signed for 2016. They and the Nationals still must either come to terms on a salary or else file for arbitration next month.

Earlier Wednesday, the Nationals avoided arbitration with Tyler Moore and Jose Lobaton, signing each backup to a 1-year deal.

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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.