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Sean Doolittle heading to 10-day IL with knee tendinitis

Sean Doolittle heading to 10-day IL with knee tendinitis

Sean Doolittle's ninth-inning Saturday night included four earned runs on three home runs, one out recorded, and one save blown. The outing was just the most recent clunker in the poor stretch the Nationals best arm in the early months has put out.

Following the game, both Doolittle and manager Davey Martinez understood that going forward, something was going to have to change

On Saturday, how the question as to how that would specifically happen was answered. Doolittle will head to the 10-day IL with knee tendinitis.

While losing an arm like Doolittle amidst an important stretch in September is not ideal, his body of work over the past few appearances suggests that a short break may be needed. With 10 earned runs in his last five outings, things haven't been easy even when the outcome ends up being a save.

The indication of problems in the knee could be the answer to some of his recent struggles, including a drop in velocity. Though, his league-leading 49 appearances could also be creating some fatigue.

Either way, both Doolittle and the Nationals are hoping that the stint will help bring the closer back to his dominant, reliable self.

“I’m giving everything I got, but, I don’t really...I don’t know. It’s really, really tough. It’s frustrating," Doolittle said. "This time of year, with whole well we’ve been playing lately, with everything’s that at stake, everything this team can still accomplish, you want to be out there. You want to help the team. But, I haven’t been pulling my weight here these last couple weeks.”

Even with discussions of his workload for the future having to be addressed, Doolittle made sure to make one thing clear to his manager. Once he's back, those last three outs are still his to get.

In the meantime, Daniel Hudson is a top candidate to pick up the high-leverage role though a closer-by-committee workload isn't out of the question. Pitcher Kyle McGowin was called up from Double-Harrisburg in a corresponding move. On the season, he holds at 9.69 ERA in five MLB opportunities.

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Nationals Johnny DiPuglia named International Scout of the Year

Nationals Johnny DiPuglia named International Scout of the Year

Both Juan Soto and Victor Robles were vital pieces to the 2019 Washington Nationals team that finished the season hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy as World Series champions.

Johnny DiPuglia -- the man who is largely responsible for both of the Nationals young, star outfielders in D.C. -- was named the International Scout of the Year, Major Leauge Baseball announced on Monday.

Earlier this month, he was promoted to assistant general manager in charge of international operations. He had previously served as the Nationals vice president of international scouting.

The Nationals acquired both Soto and Robles as international free agents, rather than through the annual June Amateur Draft. When the Nationals signed Soto, it was the most they had spent on any international free agent in team history.

DiPuglia scouted Soto when he was just 15 years old, and Washington signed him a year later for $1.5 million in 2015. 

In an interview with NBC Sports Washington earlier this year, DiPuglia admitted not even he could have predicted Soto's rise to stardom so quickly.

"[Nationals field coordinator] Tommy Shields is a guy that I talk to quite a bit. He loved the kid," DiPuglia told NBC Sports Washington. "He kept telling me 'this kid is gonna be special.' I had an inkling that he was, but you keep hearing it from [people]. I kept seeing the maturation process speed up. This kid was just unbelievable at the plate."

Soto just turned 21 during the World Series, but already has two big league seasons with a .900-plus OPS under his belt. In 2019, he posted a slash mark of .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI.

Robles signed with the Nationals in 2013 and has been in the organization since. He made his MLB debut in 2017, but the 2019 season with his first full year in the big leagues. Robles slashed 255/.326/.419 with 17 home runs and 65 RBI in 2019 while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in centerfield.

Soto and Robles are two of the most important components of the future of the Nationals organization. After their stellar 2019 campaigns, DiPuglia, the man who orchestrated it all, is deserving of the award.

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Nolan Arenado could be a consolation prize for teams that miss out on Anthony Rendon

Nolan Arenado could be a consolation prize for teams that miss out on Anthony Rendon

With top starters Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg off the board, Anthony Rendon is the lone superstar remaining in free agency.

The Nationals, Angels, Phillies, Dodgers and Rangers have all been rumored to be interested in the third baseman, who’s already received “numerous” seven-year offers. But only one team will land Rendon, and with Josh Donaldson representing perhaps the only other viable starting third baseman left in free agency, the clubs that fall short will be left scrambling for a backup plan.

One potential option on the trade market is Kris Bryant, whom the Nationals reportedly inquired about at the Winter Meetings this week. Now, another All-Star third baseman has been made available in the Rockies’ five-time All-Star Nolan Arenado.

Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies last offseason that included a full no-trade clause and an opt-out after 2021. There’s still $234 million plus plenty of incentives left on the deal, making it a comparable contract to what Rendon is expected to receive in this winter’s active market.

But one significant obstacle that could hold up a deal is Arenado’s full no-trade clause, giving him the ability to deny any trade should it be accepted by the team. He obviously wouldn’t have agreed to stay with the Rockies if he didn’t like Colorado, but the team has only made the playoffs twice in his seven-year career and was swept in its sole NLDS appearance (2018).

The amount of prospect value the Rockies would ask for in return likely depends on how much salary opposing teams are willing to take on.

When Giancarlo Stanton was traded by the Marlins to the Yankees in 2017, Miami only received one top-100 prospect, a 17-year-old signee out of the Dominican Republic and infielder Starlin Castro—but New York absorbed all of the salary aside from $30 million that will only be paid by the Marlins if Stanton doesn’t exercise his opt-out in 2020.

Arenado is a career .295 hitter who’s played in at least 150 games and hit over 30 home runs in five straight seasons. In addition to placing among the top eight in NL MVP voting each of those five years, Arenado is also a seven-time Gold Glove recipient at third base. He's played his entire career in Colorado.

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