Nationals

AP Sources: Shafer to take over at Syracuse

AP Sources: Shafer to take over at Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Four years ago, Scott Shafer's football sojourn almost seemed at a dead end.

Fired after only one year as defensive coordinator at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez, a victim of one of the worst seasons in Wolverines history, Shafer was down and out after stops at five colleges in a five-year span.

Then came a phone call at Christmas time in 2008 from Doug Marrone, who had just been hired as coach at Syracuse. The two clicked and Shafer was hired as defensive coordinator. He quickly transformed a woeful Orange defense into an intimidating unit, becoming fast friends with Marrone as both became key cogs in turning around a program that had reached the depths of despair.

Now, with Marrone suddenly leaving this week to coach the Buffalo Bills, Shafer has landed his first job as a head coach. He will officially replace Marrone, two people familiar with the selection process told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because there had not been an official announcement from the university.

The school was expected to schedule a press conference for Thursday.

With national signing day looming, acting quickly to find a replacement was of the utmost importance. Dr. Daryl Gross, the athletic director, hinted in a radio interview Monday that the choice would come from within the staff.

``We want to move fast and make sure we get things in place,'' Gross said.

Syracuse has received 14 commitments so far, nine of them from three-star athletes, including quarterbacks Zach Allen of Texas and Austin Wilson of Pennsylvania, according to Rivals.com. The site ranks the Orange class at No. 71.

Though an official announcement has not yet been made, Shafer was congratulated by his son and former players Rob Long and Antwon Bailey on Twitter.

Shafer, a 1990 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, was one of Marrone's first hires. Though he's never been this high up the coaching chain, Shafer expressed interest in taking that next step and was a candidate for the Western Michigan job that went to P.J. Fleck last month.

Marrone preached discipline, accountability, character, and integrity, and Shafer will have to follow that lead if the team is to remain on the upswing. Marrone rejuvenated a team that went 10-37 under his predecessor, Greg Robinson, and transformed it into a two-time bowl winner.

Syracuse finished 8-5 this year and 5-2 in the conference. The latter mark was good for a four-way tie in the race for the Big East title.

``I think we have an outstanding bunch of individuals on the (Syracuse) team,'' Marrone said Monday in Buffalo after being introduced as the Bills coach, indicating the staff he picks there will have NFL experience. ``I think we have an outstanding bunch of coaches, support staff, and I think everything's in place. And I really think that moving forward toward the ACC, there are things that are going to go on that are going to push this program forward.''

Stability and continuity are big deals at Syracuse. Basketball coach Jim Boeheim is in his 37th season at his alma mater and his three assistant coaches - Mike Hopkins, Adrian Autry, and Gerry McNamara - are Syracuse graduates, as are lacrosse coaches John Desko and Gary Gait and football assistants Rob Moore and Bob Brotzki.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, a 2002 graduate of Cal-Davis, was in charge of an offense that set numerous school records in 2012 with fifth-year senior quarterback Ryan Nassib at the helm. Hackett, just 33, has limited coaching experience, but retaining him on staff is paramount going forward.

The up-tempo spread offense Marrone and Hackett installed in August at the end of preseason camp has piqued the interest of quarterback prospects like Allen and Wilson. Hackett developed Nassib and transformed Syracuse's offense into one of the best in the nation. Syracuse finished 2012 first in the Big East in total offense with an average of 473.4 yards per game, and Nassib is being projected as an early-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

The Orange will play eight ACC games next season, as well as non-conference dates with, among others, Northwestern and Penn State.

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There’s a Harper in DC again: Nationals trade for reliever Ryne Harper

There’s a Harper in DC again: Nationals trade for reliever Ryne Harper

It may have taken until Jan. 29, but the Nationals finally made their first trade of the offseason Wednesday when they acquired right-hander reliever Ryne Harper from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for 21-year-old pitching prospect Hunter McMahon.

Of course, he won’t be the first Harper to don the Curly W. He’ll have a lot of work to do if he wants to top the legacy of the former MVP now playing in Philadelphia.

Putting that aside, he’s joining the Nationals coming off a solid rookie season in which he posted a 3.81 ERA with one save and 12 holds in 61 appearances for Minnesota.

At 30 years old, Harper will certainly be a bit seasoned for a second-year player. Per Brooks Baseball, his fastball averaged out at 89.7 mph while he also mixed in healthy usage of a slider and curveball. He isn’t a big strikeout pitcher (8.3 K/9), allowing mostly grounders (38.5 percent) and flyballs (37.3 percent).

Harper was designated for assignment by the Twins to make room for Josh Donaldson on the 40-man roster. Washington was among the suitors for Donaldson; although they didn’t end up signing him, the third baseman still managed to make an impact that affected the Nationals.

McMahon was a ninth-round pick out of last year’s draft who posted a 0.71 ERA over nine appearances last season between rookie ball and Low-A Auburn.

Washington figures to give Harper a chance to compete for a bullpen spot in spring training, joining a crowded group that only has three pitchers guaranteed spots heading into the year: Sean Doolittle, Will Harris and Daniel Hudson.

After the Nationals made the trade official Wednesday, their 40-man roster is now officially full. For fans still holding out hope that Kris Bryant could be going to D.C., this trade only lowers those odds even further after Bryant lost his service-time grievance with the Chicago Cubs.

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History shows how much the Wizards could get in a trade for Davis Bertans

History shows how much the Wizards could get in a trade for Davis Bertans

Indications both on the record and through back channel reporting remain that the Wizards would like to keep sharpshooting forward Davis Bertans beyond the Feb. 6 trade deadline and attempt to re-sign him in the offseason, once they are allowed to negotiate per CBA rules. The most recent story came from Sports Illustrated and it suggested the Wizards aren't entertaining offers.

Still, nothing can be ruled out. Things can change, teams could increase their offers and trade talks always ramp up as the deadline nears. And, if the Wizards do decide to trade Bertans, it would make sense if the return package was centered around draft picks, given the Wizards are in the middle of a franchise reset where those are at a premium.

So, what type of draft pick could the Wizards get for Bertans? For starters, it doesn't seem likely any collection of second round picks would get the deal done given the caliber of player he is. And while first round picks are most often dealt on draft night, there are still plenty of cases where they were sent in exchange for players at other points on the calendar.

With Bertans in mind, here are some examples of teams getting first round picks for players. You may notice a lot of them involved the Wizards being the team that gave up the draft pick. And a few of them ironically included players who are now in Washington.

February 22, 2017: Wizards traded lottery-protected 2017 first round pick (Jarrett Allen was selected), Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton to the Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough

Takeaway: This may be the best comp for a potential Bertans trade because Bogdanovic was on an expiring deal and acquired by a playoff contender at the time looking for a bench shooter. Though Bogdanovic is now a better player than Bertans, at the time he was on the level Bertans is now.

This trade also offers an ideal scenario for the Wizards in that the Nets got a really good player out of it with their draft pick. Allen is one of the game's best young rim protectors.

February 14, 2017: Raptors traded 2017 first round pick (Anzejs Pasecniks was selected) and Terrence Ross to the Magic for Serge Ibaka

Takeaway: Though Ibaka was and is better than Bertans, this type of deal in a basic sense might appeal to the Wizards. The Magic got a first round pick and a quality bench player in Ross. The Magic then used that pick in a separate deal.

February 23, 2017: Rockets traded a 2017 first round pick (Tony Bradley was selected) and Corey Brewer to the Lakers for Lou Williams

Takeaway: Williams, though more accomplished than Bertans, was acquired for the same reason that may make Bertans attractive to teams right now. He is a proven bench scorer with the ability to change the momentum of games. And like the Ibaka deal, the Lakers got both a pick and a serviceable player. If the Wizards could get a first round pick and a player who could help them, that might be hard to pass up.

February 18, 2016: Wizards traded a top-9 protected 2016 first round pick (Georgios Papagiannis was selected), DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries to the Suns for Markieff Morris

Takeaway: Morris had the pedigree of a recent first round pick with upside, but Bertans might be a more appealing trade piece at the moment. Morris had some off-court issues and a public dispute with an assistant coach and that affected his stock. The Suns getting a pick that was only top-9 protected was an impressive return, even if they didn't make much of it.

February 19, 2015: Three-team deal in which the Celtics traded a top-10 protected 2016 first round pick (Skal Labissiere was selected) to the Suns, the Suns traded Isaiah Thomas to the Celtics, the Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to the Pistons and the Pistons traded Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko to the Celtics.

Takeaway: This one is complicated by the fact three teams were involved. Also, Thomas was a better player than Bertans. But the framework of this deal is worth examining given the potential for the Wizards to get another team involved if they decide to part with him.

October 25, 2013: Wizards traded a top-12 protected 2014 first round pick and Emeka Okafor to the Suns for Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall.

Takeaway: Yet another trade where the Wizards dealt a first round pick in a win-now move. This one had some throw-in pieces, but Gortat could be seen as a similar level player relative to his position as Bertans is now. And a top-12 protected first round pick would arguably be a solid return for the Latvian Laser.

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