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With Storen now traded by Nats, focus returns to Papelbon

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With Storen now traded by Nats, focus returns to Papelbon

With the trade of Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, the focus for the Nationals now shifts to their other relief pitcher whom many expect to be dealt this winter. That would be Jonathan Papelbon, who despite getting in a televised fight with Bryce Harper in late September, remains on the roster three months into the offseason.

The Nationals would still like to trade Papelbon and spring training begins in five weeks, but finding a suitor is not an easy task. Storen getting dealt before Papelbon was always a likely scenario, given their difference in values and the obvious difference in urgency for the team.

The Storen trade perhaps illustrates the benefits of being patient. They waited until the second half of the offseason for a guy who had a terrible second half of the 2015 season and whose year was ended due to a self-inflicted injury to his hand. Yet there were still able to acquire a player in Ben Revere who fits perfectly into their future plans.

Getting a Revere-type haul for Papelbon may be unrealistic, as their intentions to trade him are obvious, he is owed $11 million in 2016 and has a partial no-trade clause to leverage. But Papelbon could still interest a team looking for backend bullpen help, especially as the free agent and trade markets continue to play out. Storen going to Toronto represents one less option for teams hoping to acquire a new closer.

The Nationals bullpen remains deep without Storen with the additions of Trevor Gott, Oliver Perez, Yusmeiro Petit and Shawn Kelley. Felipe Rivero and Blake Treinen are two holdovers from last season who are expected to hold spots. There is also a young crop of relievers who debuted in 2015 that includes Matt Grace, Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole and Rafael Martin.

Right now Papelbon projects as their closer, but he is not likely to be on the roster come Opening Day. If he is indeed dealt, the Nats will be fine in terms of depth, but will create questions as to who closes. Felipe Rivero could conceivably fill that role, though inexperience would be an issue.

Shawn Kelley and Trevor Gott, and even Blake Treinen, could fill late-innings roles, as well. But the Nats are not inclined to rely on young relievers in big spots, as they did last year with little success. The acquisition of Ben Revere to replace Michael Taylor as the starting center fielder is yet another indication of the Nationals opting to go for experience over youth. Also, see Trea Turner's once-supposed chances to compete for a starting middle infield spot.

With Storen gone, Papelbon becomes the primary focus. And if he is traded, a whole new crop of questions will emerge for the Nats and their work-in-progress bullpen.

[RELATED: Nationals trade Drew Storen to Blue Jays]

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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.

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