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With spring training looming, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren't the only free agents still unsigned

With spring training looming, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren't the only free agents still unsigned

Everyone is waiting on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to make their decision on where to play in the 2019 season. The free agency period this off-season has been overshadowed by Harper and Machado, mainly to see where the power will shift once these young, generational players pick their suitor.

While many of the 2019 free agents have found a new home, its gone mostly unnoticed. Still, there are still several notable names that are available with spring training just three weeks away. 

Notable Players Still Available

Bryce Harper, OF: Harper, along with his agent Scott Boras, is still looking for a deal worth upwards of $300 million. The Dodgers are assumed to be out of this race after they picked up A.J. Pollock. Teams Interested: Nationals, Phillies, White Sox

Manny Machado, SS: When and where Machado lands is still very much up in the air. Will he budge before Harper and sign with a tem first, setting the market for the remainder of the offseason? Teams Interested: Phillies, White Sox, Padres?, Mets?!

Dallas Keuchel, SP: There’s been an underlying assumption that Keuchel will return to his former club this entire offseason. Yet, the Astros have still yet to sign him. Teams Interested: Astros, Reds, Phillies, Braves

Craig Kimbrel, RHP: A lot of teams have found their top reliever already this offseason, but any team would be foolish to not pursue Kimbrel. Teams Interested: Red Sox, Twins, Phillies, Braves

Mike Moustakas, 3B: Moustakas has been on the back burner ever since the Royals won the World Series back in 2015. He was dealt to the Brewers before the 2018 trade deadline and could potentially return to Kansas City. Teams Interested: Royals, Padres, Mets

Gio Gonzalez, SP: Not too much news on Gonzalez during this offseason. While Nats fans are familiar with his inconsistencies, he could still help out a team, just not in a starring role. . Teams Interested: Braves, Twins,

Adam Jones, OF: The top outfield option, behind Harper, is now Jones, who at 33 has some of his best days behind him. Teams Interested: Mets

Off the Market:

Patrick Corbin (Nationals): Former Diamondbacks starting pitcher signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Nationals early in December. 

A.J. Pollock (Dodgers): Former Diamondbacks OF agreed to a contract worth $55 million over a four-year period, with an option for a fifth year with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Jan. 24. 

Josh Donaldson (Braves): Former Blue Jays 3B agreed to terms on a one-year, $23 million contract to join his old general manager Alex Anthopoulos with the Braves. 

Yasmani Grandal (Brewers): One of the most sought-after free agents at his position, the former Dodgers C agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Brewers on Jan. 10. 

Nelson Cruz (Twins): Still kicking it at 38, DH Nelson Cruz moved from the Mariners to the Twins this offseason for a year deal worth $14 million, with a team-option in 2020. 

Adam Ottavino (Yankees): Former Rockies reliever joins the Yankees for three years with a contract for $27 million to bolster a deep bullpen in the Bronx. 

Andrew McCutchen (Phillies): Perhaps in a tentative move, in case they do not get Harper, the Phillies added another former NL MVP to their outfield with the former Yankee for $50 million over three years. 

Michael Brantley (Astros): Former Indians OF signed with the Astros for a deal reportedly for two years and $32 million. 

Wilson Ramos (Mets): Gathering pieces, the Mets bring on the former Phillies C for a two-year, $19 million contract. 

J.A. Happ (Yankees): The Yankees were able to keep their SP for a $34 million, two-year deal. 

Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox): The Red Sox keep their star SP for a deal reported to be upwards of $68 million for four years. 

Andrew Miller (Cardinals): Former Indians reliever Andrew Miller agreed to join the Cardinals for two years at $25 million. 

David Robertson (Phillies): Open salary space allowed the Phillies to build by bringing on the former Yankees reliever for $23 million over two year. Robertson will likely become the Phillies’ closer in 2019.

Kelvin Herrera (White Sox): With a brief stint as a reliever for the Nationals, Herrera is joining the White Sox for two years with a deal worth $18 million. 

DJ LeMahieu (Yankees): A lot of Machado to NYY rumors blew up in smoke when the Yankees added the stellar 2B from Colorado for a two-year, $24 million deal. 

Daniel Murphy (Rockies): Continuing his leapfrogging across the NL, the former Cubs 2B joins the Cubs at two years for $24 million.

Important Offseason Dates

Wednesday, Feb. 13: Pitchers and catchers report for the Washington Nationals
Thursday, Feb. 14: First full-squad workout for Washington Nationals
Thursday, Feb. 21: First game of Spring Training takes place (Mariners vs. Athletics)
Friday, Feb. 22: First Grapefruit League game takes place (Phillies vs. Rays)


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Braves' Dansby Swanson admits he hates facing Stephen Strasburg

Braves' Dansby Swanson admits he hates facing Stephen Strasburg

After winning the NL Cy Young award in back-to-back seasons, the New York Mets' Jacob deGrom holds the title of undisputed best pitcher in the NL East—if not the entire major leagues.

So when asked at the Braves' annual winter FanFest, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman were quick to admit that they hated facing deGrom more than any other pitcher in baseball.

But shortstop Dansby Swanson has another nemesis: Stephen Strasburg.

Dansby Swanson is not a fan of Stephen Strasburg from r/baseball

Swanson is 6-for-27 (.222) with one home run and 15 strikeouts against Strasburg, making it understandable why he'd hate facing the Nationals starter.

Unfortunately for Swanson, Strasburg signed a seven-year deal with the Nationals in December. The Braves infielder isn't going to be able to avoid facing him anytime soon.

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Ron Darling believes Nationals are vindicated for Strasburg shutdown

Ron Darling believes Nationals are vindicated for Strasburg shutdown

The Nationals rose to contention in 2012, emerging from the depths of the NL East standings to establish themselves as soon-to-be perennial contenders behind a young core highlighted by back-to-back No. 1 overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

But heading into that campaign, Washington announced that Strasburg would be placed on an innings limit in what was his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. It was a highly scrutinized move at the time, as the Nationals won 98 games but went into the playoffs without their young phenom.

MLB Network analyst and former major-league pitcher Ron Darling joined D.C. Sports on Thursday to talk about the Strasburg shutdown, which came in at No. 17 in NBC Sports Washington’s Big Twenty series that highlights the 20 biggest sports stories in D.C. over the first 20 years of the decade.

“I remember just thinking to myself, ‘What a shame that Washington’s not going to have him in the postseason,’” Darling said. “But more importantly, I just tried to concentrate on—there is no team in baseball that is gonna make a decision that is gonna hurt the player and hurt their ball club.

“They just felt, because he was coming off an injury, that that was the best thing to do. Remember, they decided in Spring Training that they were going to hold him to an innings limit and I really commend them. I think it was one of the most difficult things the organization ever had to do. But they were brave and stood their ground.”

Darling himself was told in 1992 that he should undergo Tommy John surgery, but instead he elected to reinvent himself as a pitcher and alter his mechanics to put less stress on his elbow. However, Darling was in the midst of his age-31 season at the time, while Strasburg was just 22 when he went under the knife.

Although he believes putting Strasburg’s health first was the right thing to do, Darling does think the Nationals could’ve handled the situation better from a public relations standpoint.

“The only mistake I thought, was going into the season in Spring Training, they gave the innings limit,” Darling said. “I always thought there was no reason really to do that because as he got closer and closer to that innings limit, of course the media and fans and his teammates started to anticipate that shutdown so I think it put a lot of pressure on the organization, on the player, on his teammates.”

Seven years after the Nationals voluntarily ended Strasburg’s season, they won the World Series behind the strength of their starting rotation—led by Strasburg. Washington won all six games he appeared in during its 2019 playoff run. The right-hander posted a 1.98 ERA and 11.6 K/9 over 36 1/3 innings in the postseason after leading the NL with 209 regular-season innings and placing fifth in Cy Young voting.

“I don’t know if winning the World Series vindicates it,” Darling said. “I think what it has done, though, and proven, is that they’ve put Stephen Strasburg not only in a place to have an amazing career, but now he’s on a trajectory to be a Hall of Fame-kind of pitcher.

“Yes, it’s going to be four or five more years of great excellence that he’s shown, but that’s where the vindication comes, is that he’s had a great career, his trajectory is going to be a Hall of Fame career and I think the ironic part about it is that since the Strasburg shutdown, his performance in the postseason is about as good as anyone to ever toe the hill. So that’s to me where the vindication is.”

Washington has been rewarded for its patience with its prized starter. After signing a seven-year, $245 million extension at the Winter Meetings in December, Strasburg ensured that he’ll be chasing a plaque in Cooperstown as a member of the Nationals.

He mentioned several times at his subsequent press conference in D.C. the trust he built with the organization, trust undoubtedly established by how the team prioritized his health over everything early in his career. It may have been an unpopular decision in 2012. But if the Nationals had the chance to go back and do it all again, they’d make the same choice every single time.

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