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Nationals roster review: Jayson Werth

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Nationals roster review: Jayson Werth

Age on Opening Day 2016: 36

How acquired: Free agent, Dec. 2010

MLB service time: 12 years, 102 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $21 million

Contract status: Signed for $21 million in 2016, $21 million in 2017, free agent in 2018

2015 stats: 88 G, 378 PA, 51 R, 73 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB, 38 BB, 84 SO, .221 AVG, .302 OBP, .384 SLG, .685 OPS, 2 E, -6.7 UZR, -1.6 WAR

2015 analysis: Jayson Werth was already behind the 8-ball when the season began, stuck on the DL while recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery. He pushed himself to return only one week in, and not surprisingly it took him plenty of time to get into full-season mode.

Then came another setback: A May 15 fastball from San Diego's Odrisamer Despaigne that drilled Werth in the wrist and fractured it. It took 2 1/2 months to return from that injury, and once again it took even longer for Werth to get his swing together. On August 18, his batting average sat at a minuscule .184, his OPS at .531.

A surprising change of roles — up to the leadoff spot — temporarily turned Werth around, and for a couple of weeks he was as productive as any hitter in baseball. But that resurrection was short-lived. And by season's end, Werth had posted his worst numbers since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 2004.

2016 outlook: From the day he signed his 7-year, $126 million contract, there has been one question looming over Werth: How many good years did he still have in him, and how many years would the Nationals still be paying him after he crossed that threshold? The events of this season certainly leave you wondering if that point of no return has finally come, but we won't know for certain until we see him back on the field in 2016.

It's possible Werth's miserable 2015 was a direct result of injuries. But it would be foolish simply to assume that. He's going to turn 37 in May, and his decline in power and range in the outfield in particular are a significant concern.

Werth has always been something of a unique ballplayer, a late bloomer who has defied conventions plenty of times during his career. If he can keep himself healthy, perhaps he does have a bounce-back season in him. The Nationals, though, need to start preparing for a fallback plan in case that isn't the case and Werth's best days indeed are behind him.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.