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What will Nats lineup look like now?

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What will Nats lineup look like now?

The Nationals club that takes the field tonight at PNC Park in Pittsburgh will look mighty different from the one we saw only 36 hours ago on Sunday Night Baseball. Ryan Zimmerman will be back at his familiar third base. Adam LaRoche should be back at his familiar first base. Jayson Werth won't be in right field. But Bryce Harper will.

Rarely does a first-place club experience so much significant turnover from one game to the next, but such is the unusual situation the Nationals find themselves in as they open a six-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The question now becomes how Davey Johnson chooses to arrange his new-look lineup.

If the veteran manager decides to stick with what got him here, he'll probably put Zimmerman back in the No. 3 hole and LaRoche back in the cleanup spot. But what then becomes of Harper, who debuted as the Nationals' seventh hitter but quickly ascended to the third spot while Zimmerman was on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation?

Perhaps Johnson could bump the 19-year-old down to the No. 5 position, behind Zimmerman and LaRoche. But that doesn't seem to take the most advantage of his skill-set. Harper, as we've already seen, isn't just a power hitter. He's an all-around offensive threat, just as likely to beat you with his legs as his bat.

Here's one possible solution: Have Harper bat second. Johnson is probably going to be looking for a new No. 2 hitter with Steve Lombardozzi (who capably filled in for Zimmerman at third base) returning to the bench, and with Danny Espinosa looking more comfortable farther down in the lineup after struggling in the 2-hole to open the season.

Harper as a No. 2 hitter would make sense in a lot of ways. He'd slot in nicely between Ian Desmond and Zimmerman, offering up both the ability to get on base and to drive in guys who get on in front of him. He clearly has a good eye at the plate, works the count and reaches base at a healthy clip (his OBP is .424 right now), all important qualities for a No. 2 hitter. And you probably wouldn't find too many opposing managers wanting to pitch around the kid just to take their chances with Zimmerman.

Here, then, is what tonight's potential lineup could look like...

SS Ian Desmond
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Roger Bernadina
P Edwin Jackson

OK, it's not a perfect lineup by any stretch of the imagination. And the drop-off in production from the top four spots to the bottom five spots is pretty dramatic.

But given what Johnson has to work with at the moment, it might just make the most sense.

We'll find out for sure later this afternoon once the Nationals report to PNC Park.

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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