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Nats, Desmond avoid arbitration with $3.8M deal

Nats, Desmond avoid arbitration with $3.8M deal

WASHINGTON (AP) Shortstop Ian Desmond got a raise of more than $3 million on Friday, when the Washington Nationals announced they agreed to contracts with six of their seven arbitration-eligible players.

Desmond, who made $512,500 last season and was selected to the NL All-Star team, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.8 million, one-year deal.

He's coming off a breakout year, when he batted .292 with 25 homers, 33 doubles, 73 RBIs and 21 stolen bases, and cut his errors from 23 to 15. He also hit .368 in his postseason debut for the NL East champions.

Other players agreeing were left-handed starting pitcher Ross Detweiler, right-handed relievers Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen, and outfielder Roger Bernadina. The Nationals also gave a $2.5 million, one-year contract with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on Thursday.

The agreements left right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann as Washington's last remaining player whose case could go to a hearing in front of a three-arbitrator panel in Phoenix next month. The sides exchanged arbitration figures but they also might reach an agreement before any hearing.

Zimmermann asked for $5.8 million, while the Nationals submitted $4.6 million. He made $2.3 million last season, when he went 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA last season, making 32 starts and pitching 195 2-3 innings.

Detweiler agreed to a $2,337,500, one-year deal, a raise from $485,000 last season, when he went 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 27 starts and six relief appearances.

Clippard also got a substantial raise, moving to $4 million next season after making $1,675,000 in 2012. After a series of injuries to other relievers, he shifted from a setup role to closer and had 32 saves in 37 chances, along with a 2-6 record, 3.72 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 72 2-3 innings.

Stammen agreed to a $2,225,000, two-year contract after going 6-1 with one save, a 2.34 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 88 1-3 innings across 59 relief appearances in 2012. Out of 81 players who agreed to terms with major league teams Friday, Stammen was one of only two who got a multiyear contract; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole was the other ($2.5 million, two years).

Stammen will make $875,000 this year and $1.35 million in 2014.

Bernadina agreed to a one-year deal worth $1,212,500, after earning $493,000 last season as a reserve outfielder. He hit .291 with five homers, 25 RBIs and 15 steals in 227 at-bats.

All told, the six players with new contracts are guaranteed $14,725,000 in 2013 , an increase from $10.5 million for those players last year.

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.