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Nats sign 1st significant Latin prospect in years


Nats sign 1st significant Latin prospect in years

The Nationals have signed Dominican outfielder Juan Soto to a $1.5 million bonus, the organization's first international signing of any significant consequence since the notorious Esmailyn Gonzalez fiasco nearly a decade ago.

The signing has not been formally announced yet, but it was confirmed by a club source.'s Jesse Sanchez first reported the deal.

Soto, 16, is a natural right fielder with a "smooth lefty cut and projectable frame with above average power potential," according to a Fangraphs scouting report. He was rated the 13th-best prospect in this year's international class, according to Baseball America, 22nd by

The signing (which occurred on the annual July 2 date when international players become eligible) is particularly notable for the Nationals, who have completely shied away from major international signings since the Gonzalez case rocked the organization six years ago.

The Nationals signed a Dominican shortstop who claimed to be a 16-year-old named Esmailyn Gonzalez on July 2, 2006, handing him a club-record bonus of $1.4 million. Three years later, the organization learned Gonzalez had lied about his age and identity; he actually was four years older than he claimed and was named Carlos Alvarez.

That revelation, along with inquiries into allegations of part of the bonus money being skimmed by team officials, led to the firing of special assistant Jose Rijo and director of Dominican operations Jose Baez in February 2009. General manager Jim Bowden resigned three days later, ultimately paving the way for Mike Rizzo to take over the Nationals' baseball operations department.

After being burned so publicly by the Gonzalez scandal, the Nationals stayed almost entirely out of the international market since, signing mostly less-touted prospects for far less money. Some of those players have developed into top organizational prospects, most notably infielder Wilmer Difo and right-hander Reynoldo Lopez.

Thursday's signing of Soto to a new club record bonus suggests the franchise finally is comfortable delving back into the prominent international market.

MORE NATIONALS: Nats lineup goes silent in loss to Braves

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.


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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.