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Would a Zimmerman backup plan include a trade for Nats?

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Would a Zimmerman backup plan include a trade for Nats?

The Nationals got some good news on Sunday regarding their biggest injury concern this spring, as Ryan Zimmerman made his 2016 Grapefruit League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals. Zimmerman was the Nats' designated hitter after missing nearly two weeks due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

On the same day Zim returned to the lineup, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wondered in his Sunday column if the Nats may be smart to trade for infield help. Rosenthal's reasoning was that Zimmerman is dealing with a persistent injury and his health remains a concern, even though he's back on the field. In order for Zimmerman to be ready for Opening Day on April 4, he will need to avoid setbacks as he builds on at-bats this spring.

If Zimmerman ends up missing regular season games, there seem to be two contingency plans. Either they slide Clint Robinson in to start at first base in Zimmerman's place, or they move Daniel Murphy over to first and keep Trea Turner in the lineup at second.

Turner has been impressive this spring and presents the higher ceiling of the two scenarios as a top prospect. But the Nationals have suggested he will not begin the season in the majors. Not only did they add more depth at the shortstop position this winter by signing Stephen Drew, but comments made by GM Mike Rizzo and manager Dusty Baker just this week show how they feel about Turner and his development.

Here is what Rizzo said on Buster Olney's podcast: 

"He's got one full season of minor league baseball under his belt. He's a guy that could use some more at-bats in the minor leagues."

And here is what Baker said on MLB Network Radio on Friday:

"I don't know," Baker said. "It's kind of an outside [chance]. Right now you've got to give an opportunity to [Danny] Espinosa... Trea is going to be the incumbent shortstop or second baseman here, some day, it's just a matter of him waiting his turn -- a lot of times I've noticed -- I mean, I love young players, I mean, nobody loves them more than me, but, on the other hand, we have a tendency to ruin and rush young players sometimes."

They aren't exactly beating around the bush. If you take them at their word, it would seem Robinson has the best chance to step in if Zimmerman isn't ready.

The Nationals would likely be fine in either situation, with Robinson or Turner. And one could argue a trade to bring in somebody new is not necessary either, given their infield depth.

The Nats have some decent infield options for their bench between Scott Sizemore, Jason Martinson, Brendan Ryan and Chris Bostick. All playing well so far this spring, but are on the outside looking in the mix for roster spots. That group could produce a viable option if Zimmerman misses any time.

If the Nationals do trade for infield help, as Rosenthal suggests they could, it would show exactly how worried they are about Zim's left foot, given they appear to be well-prepared to compensate for his absence, at least in the short-term.

[RELATED: Scherzer likely to start Opening Day for Nats, as expected]

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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