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Nationals Sean Doolittle named MLB Network’s second best reliever

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Nationals Sean Doolittle named MLB Network’s second best reliever

Sean Doolittle, who the Nationals acquired in summer 20187, has been named to the MLB Network’s list of Top 10 Relievers.

And the 32-year-old comes in at No. 2 on the list, right behind Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox.

See some of Doolittle’s star pitches at 5:30 in the video below:

Rounding out the rest of the list is as follows:

10. Cubs Brandon Morrow

9. Rangers José Leclerc

8. Yankees Aroldis Chapman

7. Yankees Chad Green

6. Pirates Felipe Vázquez

5. Athletics Blake Treinen

4. Mets Edwin Diaz

3. Brewers Josh Hader

Doolittle is signed with the Nationals thru 2019 to a 6 year/$16.5M deal with a 2020 team option.

In 2018, Doolittle was named closer and was 22 of 23 in save opportunities before he was put on the disabled list with left toe inflammation on July 10. He was reactivated off the DL in September 2018. He finished the 2018 season with an ERA of 1.60.

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Howie Kendrick? He wants everyone to know he is fully healed

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Howie Kendrick? He wants everyone to know he is fully healed

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Howie Kendrick stated this months ago: He’ll be ready for spring training.

He said it toward the end of last season. Kendrick was walking gently at that point, just a few months out from a surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon. May 19. Kendrick was on the seat of his white pants on the warning track. He no longer had control of his foot. Kendrick knew the year was over.

Various members of the Nationals would mention him the rest of the season. Davey Martinez always added Kendrick if someone rattled off the list of injured and forgot to include the 35-year-old. Mike Rizzo brought it up in public and private. Gone was a veteran who could play two infield positions and left field, as well as handle any situational hitting in his 13th season. Gone was a veteran who would use directness in the clubhouse when necessary. Both became factors in a middling season.

“When Howie was available and playing every day, he was doing really well,” Martinez said. “I could hit him anywhere in the lineup -- at second, at first, at outfield. He was doing really well. But, what people don’t realize, is Howie in that clubhouse is the constant. He’s the guy where if he thinks something is not right, or you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that, he’d be the guy to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be the guy to run the balls out. Let’s go.’ Or if he’d somebody down, he pats them on the back.’ C’mon, man. Let’s go. We’ll get this done.’ But he was that constant guy.”

He’s back now, like he said he would be, taking ground balls at second base along with newly signed Brian Dozier during the Nationals’ first full squad workout of spring training Tuesday. Kendrick worked in Arizona last season and in the offseason to get to this point. He followed protocols from the Nationals’ medical staff and his personal trainer, helping Kendrick evolve from scooter-dependent to walking slowly to running to sprinting. Once in West Palm Beach, he was unrestricted, as promised.

“Everything has been good,” Kendrick said. “I told them last year when I left, I told them my goal is to be ready for day one of spring training, and I've been running for about three weeks now, sprinting and stuff, simulating running the bases and things like that.”

Rizzo entered the offseason by saying the team was comfortable with a platoon of Wilmer Difo and Kendrick at second base. He later signed Dozier to a one-year deal, chasing the pop of his bat and expecting a bounce-back season. Dozier is right next to Kendrick in the clubhouse. The move pleased Kendrick. It could have irritated him because of its clear influence on his playing time.

“We're trying to win ball games, I don't really think about it,” Kendrick said. “I know Brian, I played against him over in the AL. He's a great player, great defender, a lot of power, you know I'm excited to have him here. My role on this team hasn't changed, I'm going to play everywhere like I did in previous couple years, and you know I look at it like that. The at-bats I get are the at-bats I get, I'm not here to complain about anything, I'm here to play baseball, try to help guys get better and try to win ball games. 

“At the end of the day I think that's really important. As far as Dozier, he's the second baseman, guy can play.”

Kendrick’s time in the game is dwindling. He’s coming off major surgery. The market for 36-year-old second baseman/outfielders is extremely limited. If other value what Martinez and Rizzo do, maybe Kendrick finds another contract, which prevents him from graduating to full-time coach status for his kids. In the interim, he’s healthy in West Palm Beach.


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MLB insiders handicap final sprint for Bryce Harper now that Manny Machado has signed

MLB insiders handicap final sprint for Bryce Harper now that Manny Machado has signed

The first major domino of MLB free agency finally dropped on Tuesday, after what felt like months of waiting.

Four-time all-star and former Orioles third baseman Manny Machado reportedly agreed to a massive, 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.

With Machado now out of the way, the focus on everybody’s mind now shifts back to Bryce Harper.

Eight MLB Insiders weighed in on their opinions on what this deal means for Harper.

Jim Bowden ( via CBS Sports HQ Twitter): Now that Manny Machado signed, Bryce Harper has a dollar value where he should be. Phillies had the leverage to offer either Harper or Machado a mega contract and if they didn’t take it offer it to the other. Now that Machado signed, they have lost all of their leverage. After Friday, if Harper has not signed with the Phillies, it is anyone’s game. Bowden predicts 10 years, $320-$330 million.

John Clark (NBC Sports Philly): The pressure is on for the Phillies. All of their eggs are in the “Bryce basket” since they could have outbid the Padres for Manny Machado. Bryce Harper plays best in Philadelphia and the stats prove it. He has 14 HR in Citizens Bank Park last season… meaning if he starts for the Phillies, he could have a 40+ season.

Amy Fadool (NBC Sports Philly): “The White Sox should be shocked that they did not get Manny Machado. The Nationals have the money to bid but the Phillies have Harper to lose.” Fadool predicts 10 years, $320 million.

Marc Farzetta (NBC Sports Philly): “It is no doubt that Bryce Harper will get the money he wants. Machado went where the finances talked and Bryce will do the same. It all depends if he wants to play in Philadelphia. If he doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia he won’t sign here.” Farzetta predicts $340 million.

Jon Heyman (via Twitter @JonHeyman): "With several teams, Harper derby may take a few or even several more days. Besides favored Phillies, there are at least the Giants, Padres, White Sox and perhaps incumbent Nats. Washington hasn’t been at the en at forefront but could come late. Rumor they have right to match at end is untrue tho." Heyman correctly predicted Machado’s contract back in November.” He predicted Bryce Harper signing a deal at 11 years, $330 million.

Buster Olney ( “The Bryce Harper camp should be high-fiving each other because he will get the biggest contract in baseball. Olney states that Harper will sign with the Phillies but the White Sox could be an underdog.” Reporting from Nationals Spring Training, Olney says that they are not making any moves to sign Harper.

Jim Salisbury (NBC Sports Philly): Bryce Harper has not made a decision about where he will sign because he has more options than ever. Salisbury thinks that the Nationals, White Sox and Phillies are the only teams in the running for Harper.

Dave Uram (via Twitter @MrUram): "This is pure speculation (per my opinion): After what happened with Manny Machado, if Bryce Harper doesn't agree to terms with the #Phillies by the end of the day, considering spring training already began, it'll give me the sense he doesn't want to play in Philadelphia."