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AP source: RHP Haren, Nationals near deal

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AP source: RHP Haren, Nationals near deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Free agent pitcher Dan Haren and the Washington Nationals are close to completing a one-year deal for $13 million, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.

The person spoke Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings under condition of anonymity because no deal was announced.

Washington had the best record in the majors last season. The NL East champions already have a formidable rotation led by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, and could boost it by adding Haren, an All-Star from 2007-09.

``I've got some young guys that act like veterans, and they pitched like veterans last year for me, and a veteran like Dan Haren is just going to make things even better,'' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. ``I think he's a great addition. I've seen him pitch a lot over the years, intense competitor, and hopefully we'll get that done.''

Haren was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts and 176 2-3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels nearly traded the 32-year-old righty to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Carlos Marmol after the season, then declined their $15.5 million option on him for next season and paid a $3.5 million buyout.

Johnson said he's fully familiar with Haren and says he might do even better in the NL.

``He pitched a lot of innings, and he had a decent year for Anaheim,'' Johnson said. ``Also, the American League is a little bit tougher with an extra DH in there. I like his stuff. I like his competitiveness.''

Haren has made at least 30 starts in eight straight years. Known for his durability, he went on the disabled list for the first time in his career last season because of a back issue.

Johnson also predicted free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche will re-sign with the Nationals.

``Adam LaRoche is going to come back,'' the manager said. ``I mean, if I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will.''

Washington brought postseason baseball to the capital for the first time since 1933. After coming within a strike of advancing to the NL championship series on five different pitches, the Nationals lost to St. Louis in Game 5 of the NL division series.

``I think we're in a perfect position to show the world that we're a pretty good damn ballclub, and we can go farther into the postseason,'' Johnson said. ``World Series or bust, that's probably the slogan this year. But I'm comfortable with that.''

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2018 MLB Power Rankings: All-Star update

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2018 MLB Power Rankings: All-Star update

The All-Star break is a perfect opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate the landscape of Major League Baseball. As it turns out, however, there aren't as many meaningful moves as one might expect.

The unrivaled dominance of the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees sets us up for a wildly entertaining October, and the uber-talented rosters of the Indians, Cubs and Dodgers will make noise as well. Still, it means the top three (and, moving down, the next three to four teams) in our power rankings haven't experienced much variance in 2018.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been more pronounced than it is in this era, which means the bottom-four teams have stayed pretty steady since May. Yes, the Reds have made a nice jump since Jim Riggleman took over, and the Orioles are about 15 spots lower than we had them in March, but none of the major moves will have any real impact on who we expect to win the World Series this year.

That doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to see where each team stands, however, and these are certainly still subject to change. The Nationals, for example, have enough talent and starpower on the roster to jump into the top six or seven teams as a legitimate title contender at some point.  

The stars are out in D.C. this week, as baseball converges onto the nation's capital. Are the hometown team's stars enough to keep the roster in the conversation for the playoffs? 

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    2018 MLB Home Run Derby Live Blog

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    2018 MLB Home Run Derby Live Blog

    It's dinger donging time. 

    Tonight's the night that Nats fans have looked forward to for a few years now — a Home Run Derby in D.C. featuring Bryce Harper, who's favored to win this year's contest. All eyes will be on Harper and Nats Park and I guess everyone else who's taking part in the event, and NBC Sports Washington will have you covered from batting practice through the last mashed tater. 

    Make sure to follow along on our social channels as well, where we'll be sure to be supplying okayish tweets all night. 

    Stylin' Bryce Harper (6 p.m.)

    We knew the Nats' slugger was ready to show his love for his team and the MLB All-Star Game's host city with some spectacular Washington-themed cleats, but Harper took it a step further Monday before the fun started. Harper is hitting in the derby with a special cherry blossom bat, as an additional nod to the nation's capital. 

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