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Washington Nationals roster review: Yunel Escobar

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Washington Nationals roster review: Yunel Escobar

Age on Opening Day 2016: 33

How acquired: Trade with the Athletics in Jan. 2015

MLB service time: 7 years, 121 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $5 million

Contract status: Signed for $7 million in 2016, $7 million team option for 2017 with $1 million buyout

2015 stats: 139 G, 591 PA, 75 R, 168 H, 25 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB, 45 BB, 70 SO, .314 AVG, .375 OBP, .415 SLG, .790 OPS, 7 E, -7.7 UZR, 2.1 WAR

Quotable: "He’s playing with a clean mind. He prepared himself real well this offseason, playing real relaxed. He said that’s why it’s leading to him having a good year," Escobar through a translator.

2015 analysis: Yunel Escobar joined the Nationals late in the offseason in a trade with the Oakland Athletics just days after getting traded to the A's from the Tampa Bay Rays in a separate deal. Escobar replaced Clippard on the Nats roster and, despite playing a different position, had very big shoes to fill. The new National will always be tied to Clippard, who left D.C. as one of the best and more popular players in team history.

Escobar couldn't help out the Nats' bullpen, which became a weakness in part due to Clippard's absence, but he was excellent for their offense. The nine-year MLB veteran enjoyed his best season at the plate with a .314 average - sixth in the NL - 75 runs and a .790 OPS. He was considered by many a snub for the All-Star Game and continued that pace throughout the season.

Defensively, Escobar stuck at third base after entering the season projected to play at second. But a lengthy injury recovery for Anthony Rendon pushed Escobar to third and once he was there he never left. Escobar felt comfortable at third despite playing the majority of his career at shortstop, and Rendon's versatility to play both second and third helped his cause. Escobar struggled at times on defense, but did enough with his bat to be one of the team's more valuable players in the 2015 season.

2016 outlook: Escobar had the best season of his career and it came with two more years of team control left on his contract. If he can continue to play like he did in 2015, then $7 million over the next two seasons looks like a favorable price for what he provides.

The Nationals could certainly use Escobar with the likely departure of Ian Desmond in free agency. He fits in their infield alongside Ryan Zimmerman, Rendon and either Danny Espinosa or Trea Turner. Where Escobar fits defensively, however, is hard to tell.

The Nationals will have to decide whether they want to keep him at third, where he seems to want to play, or move him to second and return Rendon to third base. Rendon is a much better defensive player and that showed down the stretch of 2015 with Escobar sidelined at different times.

Given they do have Espinosa, who had a bounce-back season in 2015, the Nationals could look to move Escobar this offseason. They would listen to trade offers for the veteran and at this point would be selling high. There is no guarantee Escobar can produce the same numbers in 2016. Then again, with the injury histories of Rendon and Zimmerman, entering a season with five starting-quality infielders may not be a bad idea.

[RELATED: Nats interviewed former All-Star for manager job]

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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