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Stock Watch: Harper's magical season nearing its end

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Stock Watch: Harper's magical season nearing its end

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-2

Team slash: .269/.372/.437

Team ERA: 3.11

Runs per game: 6.6

STOCK UP  

Bryce Harper, RF: .450 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.356 OPS

The discussion about who should be NL MVP is just about over; the only thing left now is to attempt to put Harper's season into its proper historical context. His slash line of .342/.471/.672 -- to go along with 41 home runs and 95 RBI -- is so impressive that the only other players that have accomplished all those feats in one season are guys named Bonds, Ruth and Gehrig, among other Hall of Famers. Without question, the hallmark of the 22-year-old's breakout campaign has been his consistently patient approach at the plate, something that was typified Tuesday night when he set the Nationals' single-season record for walks with 118. Throughout all of 2015, he rarely expanded his strike zone, instead forcing opposing pitchers to hit their spot. Not only that, but he's shown that he's more than content poking a single into the opposite field instead of trying to hit one over the fence. It's that type of maturity that'll earn him hardware at the end of this season and will drive pitchers crazy as his career goes on. 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/ 7.0 IP/ 10 K 

It took a while (as in, an entire half of a season), but we can say that Strasburg has finally found himself once again. Since the All-Star break, he's been the most consistent pitcher in the rotation, owning a 5-2 record and a 2.45 ERA. His command has been impeccable during this stretch; he's walked just six batters while recording 72 strikeouts. That's about as dominant as it gets. For as unlikely as it seemed back in May, this season might end with Strasburg having put together the best all-around season of anyone on the starting staff. 

Blake Treinen, RP: 3 GP/ 2.2 IP/ 0 ER 

Since he took a loss against the Mets on September 7, Treinen has found a way to rebound quite nicely. He hasn't allowed a hit in his last six appearances and looks much more like the guy the Nats envisioned he would be when they put him in more high leverage spots earlier in the season. However, he still has to show that he can consistently handle late-inning situations next season if he wants to become a candidate for the setup role in 2016. 

STOCK DOWN  

Tanner Roark, SP: 0-1/ 5.0 IP/ 6 ER 

It just hasn't been Roark's year. A season removed from being one of the most invaluable members of the pitching staff, he hasn't been able to replicate 2014's success in any of the roles he's filled. It's an especially unfortunate development because with Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister about to become free agents this winter, there's a chance that Roark could fill an opening in next year's rotation. 

 

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its 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

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm