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Nats' reliever to get second opinion on ailing shoulder


Nats' reliever to get second opinion on ailing shoulder

Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo provided a pair of injury updates for the Nationals on Friday before the team's game against the New York Mets, as though they have seen a good group of guys return over the last week, there remain several big names on the disabled list.

Reliever David Carpenter, Rizzo revealed, will get a second opinion on his right shoulder. Carpenter has been out since July 12 with right shoulder inflammation. He began a throwing program, but had to stop after feeling discomfort in his shoulder. He then underwent an MRI that showed no structural damage and received anti-inflammatory shots.

Rizzo said the team is in a holding pattern right now until they learn the results of Carpenter's second opinion.

"He's getting a second opinion on his shoulder to see where we go from there. Once we get the second opinion back we'll make some decisions on what he's going to do and when he's going to start doing his rehab and throwing program," he said.

Carpenter allowed just one earned run in eight appearances with the Nats before going on the DL. He was acquired in a June 11 trade with the New York Yankees.

Span is still yet to swing a bat since receiving a cortisone shot in his back on July 13. The Nats center fielder will be re-evaluated by the team early next week before the next step in his rehab is determined.

"He's in D.C. now working with a therapist," Williams explained. "We will see him in the next couple of days to make a determination on where he goes from here, when he starts hitting and running and throwing, doing all that stuff. He's doing all the exercises that are required for him to get back. Once he starts getting a bat in his hands, then he can go full-bore and get here as soon as possible."

Williams is hopeful Span can get working soon after what has been a long layoff.

"At some point he's just going to have to let it go and get back to doing baseball activities and playing. I think he's at that point. He's at that point of getting back on the field and starting the baseball stuff again. That should come fairly quickly for him."

Span has been on the DL since July 7 with what the team has described as back tightness.

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Twists and turns keep coming in Harper sweepstakes


Twists and turns keep coming in Harper sweepstakes

No better soap opera has graced Major League Baseball than Bryce Harper’s journey into free agency. Each spring training opened with questions about what would happen down the line for Harper, who turned from teenager to drinking age to his mid-20s fielding the same queries about his pending freedom. Harper promptly smacked those questions away at the start of spring training in 2018. That was when he delivered a threat to walk out if asked what had become a standard question on the first day he spoke each spring in Florida.

A snow-filled January Sunday in the DMV delivered another twist -- sort of. Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who has been adamant throughout the offseason Harper would sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, reported the Phillies are now the “clear-cut favorite” to sign Harper following a five-hour meeting Saturday in Las Vegas, though no offer has been made.

Nightengale went on to say the Nationals are, in essence, receding into the background.

What we know is Harper’s market is small. We also knew that from the start. Philadelphia’s spending following the 2017 offseason suggested it was in a mood to distribute cash. It took on Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, the latter move shoving slugger Rhys Hoskins into the outfield, forcing an expensive square-peg, round-hole situation. But they chose to pay for it, hinting future expenditures were to come.

So, Philadelphia’s desire to chase Harper and/or Manny Machado this offseason makes baseline sense. A key to recall here is whether Harper would actually want to play for these teams who are pursuing him. That’s unclear and will remain so until he chooses one.

Strange in Sunday’s report is the suggestion Harper would have taken a discount to return to Washington.

“Nats officials privately say Harper no longer is in their plans, and unless Lerner changes his mind or Harper accepts a contract that pays him less than $25 million a year, they anticipate life without him.”

The team already offered an average annual value of $30 million over 10 years -- likely with a chunk of the money deferred. While that deal could have been rescinded, the logic of doing so then backtracking to $25 million doesn’t make sense. Why offer $30 million per, be declined, then come back with a push for $25 million?

These machinations were expected. No easy path toward a conclusion seemed imminent from the start, not with so much money on the line, so much grandeur at stake and such length of commitment necessary. Max Scherzer, having gone through this process following the 2014 season, had a prediction of what would come.

“Stay patient,” Scherzer told me of what he would advise Harper about the process. “There’s going to be, if I had to guess, there’s going to be a lot of -- lot of -- hoopla and negative press trying to tear you down. There will probably be a lot more teams saying, no, they don’t want to sign you than you ever could possibly believe.

“They will find every little thing to critique you over and you can’t let that affect you. You have to have a business mind. You have to stay patient. You have to know the value you create and basically stick to your guns. Just know it’s going to be a fight.”

Harper last played in Nationals Park 14 weeks ago. He closed the season Sept. 30 in Colorado. He’s since been prominent, an every-few-days presence in the news cycle, without uttering a word. He was perhaps most on display -- though not present -- when Scott Boras rambled through an hour-long visit with reporters in Las Vegas.

Pitchers, catchers, and all types are a month away from walking into spring training. That leaves a few more weeks for Harper maneuvering, and perhaps, finally, a decision. An easy path has not materialized. That’s the one thing in all of this known to be true.


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Nationals reach expected 1-year deals with Rendon, Turner to avoid arbitration


Nationals reach expected 1-year deals with Rendon, Turner to avoid arbitration

As expected, the Nationals agreed to terms Friday on one-year deals with Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner in order to avoid salary arbitration.

However, the Nationals did not agree to terms with outfielder Michael A. Taylor or reliever Kyle Barraclough, which means they may take the rare step of moving to arbitration hearings with the pair.

Sammy Solis and Joe Ross, both arbitration eligible, previously agreed to contract terms.

The Nationals are typically loathe to enter arbitration hearings with players. Those proceedings can become contentious and hinder future negotiations, which is why the organization has avoided them since 2015 until possibly finding an impasse this season with Taylor and Barraclough.

Taylor remains in the mix as a fourth outfielder and ongoing offensive project. The Nationals hold his rights until after the 2020 season. Barraclough was acquired Oct. 10 from the Miami Marlins for international slot money. He’s expected to be one of the team’s late inning relievers. He is arbitration eligible in 2020 and 2021.

Here’s a procedural overview of what’s next for them:

If the club and player have not agreed on a salary by a deadline in mid-January, the club and player must exchange salary figures for the upcoming season. Unsurprisingly, the club files a lower number than the player does.

After the figures are exchanged, a hearing is scheduled in February. If no one-year or multi-year settlement can be reached by the hearing date, the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators. After hearing arguments from both sides, the panel selects either the salary figure of the player or the club (but not one in between) as the player's salary for the upcoming season.

Rendon is reportedly receiving a significant raise -- according to Bob Nightengale, he'll earn $18.8 million in 2019, up from $12.3 million last season -- following another excellent season. He finished 2018 with a .909 OPS and 4.2 WAR. Next for him is the big issue: Rendon is entering his final season before he can become a free agent.

He’s open to considering a contract extension. As is the team, which first approached him about an extension more than a year ago. The wrinkle is Rendon’s agent, Scott Boras. He prefers his clients reach free agency as opposed to sign extensions.

However, Stephen Strasburg opted for an extension in 2016 in a situation that reads similar to Rendon’s. When asked at the Winter Meetings, both Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and Boras said they expect the sides to have further dialogue on a possible extension for Rendon.

The team holds three more years of control on Turner, who will continue to go through this year-to-year contractual process. He can’t become a free agent until his age-30 season. Like Rendon, Turner received a large raise. He’ll reportedly make $3.725 million next season, well above the $577,200 he made last season, which was slightly above league minimum.