Nats make splash with Eaton deal at Meetings

GM Rizzo sets sights on relief help after acquiring talented outfielder

Nats make splash with Eaton deal at Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Nationals were one of the most active teams at the Winter Meetings, inquiring about nearly every major name on the free-agent and trade market. General manager Mike Rizzo came into the week with a deep arsenal of prospects at his disposal, some money to spend and the willingness to pull off an aggressive trade.

Rizzo had a plethora of targets -- from White Sox lefty Chris Sale (before he was ultimately traded to the Red Sox) to Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (who appears set to remain in Pittsburgh) -- and he ultimately pulled off a major move, even if it surprised a lot of people around baseball. Washington acquired outfielder Adam Eaton from Chicago and had to surrender the steep price of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, three of the top six prospects in the Nationals' system.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Eaton to Nats; Giolito, 2 more prospects to White Sox

Eaton to Nats; Giolito, 2 more prospects to White Sox

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- After entering the Winter Meetings in position to make an impact move, the Nationals pulled off such a trade on Wednesday evening to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox while unloading three of their best prospects.

Eaton, who turned 28 on Tuesday, has been one of the most productive outfielders in the Majors during the past three years even though he has flown a bit under the radar. Since 2014, he has accumulated a 12.7 WAR (an average of about 4.2 per year), according to FanGraphs, which ranks 10th among all Major League outfielders. Combine that with an affordable long-term contract that has Eaton under team control until 2021, which includes two team options, and the Nats were enticed enough to veer from their normal trepidation to trade their top prospects.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

What's next? Nationals could seek relief help

Club has flexibility after trades for Eaton, Norris and may go after Jansen

What's next? Nationals could seek relief help

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Nationals made a big splash at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, when they acquired outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox for three of their top pitching prospects. Eaton has been an underrated star for the past few years, and he fills a need for the Nationals in the outfield while being under team control for the next five years at an affordable salary.

Both moves the Nationals have made this offseason -- Eaton and catcher Derek Norris -- have been for players who have an affordable salary, which could give them some flexibility to address their remaining needs. Their biggest need, and one of their top priorities this offseason, is acquiring help in the bullpen, mainly a reliever with closer experience.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

How well do you remember Tim Raines' career?

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How well do you remember Tim Raines' career?

He's a seven-time All-Star with three World Series rings, and he's on the Hall of Fame ballot for the final time. Will Tim Raines head to Cooperstown next summer? We'll find out on Jan. 18 on MLB Network and MLB.com, but first: How well do you know the speedy star of the 1980s and 1990s? Take our quiz and find out.

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Espinosa to play for Team Mexico in Classic

Espinosa to play for Team Mexico in Classic

Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa has decided to play for Team Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi. The Nationals or Team Mexico haven't confirmed the report.

Espinosa, who grew up in an all-Hispanic community in California, adds to a talented infield for Mexico alongside first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Espinosa will be making his first appearance in the Classic after deciding to sit out the tournament in 2013 as he was recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. The 29-year-old struggled to a .209 average in 2016, but he did hit 24 home runs with 72 RBIs.

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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Winter Meetings interview with Dusty Baker

Q. How do you feel about going possibly in the season with an inexperienced closer?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, the winter is not over yet, so you can't be fearful of something that still has a chance to fill that position. So, it would be different if we were in, you know, late February, you know, late January, early February.

And somebody always emerges. I believe that, that somebody will come forward. They will separate themselves from the pack. But in the meantime, we're still looking to fill that void.

Q. What else is important to you personally to see filled before you get to Spring Training?
DUSTY BAKER: I think some depth, you know, because we still haven't signed -- Tim didn't sign Stephen Drew. And our bench is so important. These guys -- you can't win without a good bench. Depth is important.

I would like to have some more speed. You would like to have some power arms in the back end of the bullpen, hopefully. And more than anything, you want, you know, good health from the people that are here. And I would like to see my guys -- I've been checking on them. I would like to see them come into Spring Training in even better shape than last year because my teams basically don't go on the DL very much and I think that's attributed to the kind of shape that they're in and where our finances and training staff trains them. This is one of the best fitness staffs that I've had, ever.

Q. Will you handle Stephen Strasburg any differently next year?
DUSTY BAKER: No, I thought we handled him pretty good this year. Just some things happened. We'll see how he is. If there's anything I'm curious about, it's about how he is going into Spring Training. We have to see how he is, first, before we assess how we'll handle him. I'm hoping that it's all subsided. He's in the process of still learning himself and learning his body. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

I get to see all those guys on Friday and tap 'em on the stomach and tap 'em on the butt to see -- they don't know what I'm doing, they think I'm saying hello, but I'm really checking for, you know, fat content (Laughter), to see how much eating they can continue to do over the holidays.

Q. How much time did you take to reflect on the season, think about just the way things went and things you wanted to change?
DUSTY BAKER: I didn't think about necessarily things I wanted to change. You want to change the outcome of some things. I took a week before I went home, and I reflected mostly while I was packing, you know, to go home.

Then when I went home, I was watching the rest of the playoffs and the World Series, and I was ready to go home because I hadn't been home in eight months. That's a long time. I was ready to go home but not yet, because we had some things that I still wanted to do. I wasn't ready to go home, baseball-wise. I was ready to go home for home and that's understandable, I think.

I've enjoyed my time here. This is probably one of the best stops I've had outside of San Francisco, which is home. I really like D.C., I like the surrounding area, I like the people here, I like the educational level here. I liked everything about here, other than sometimes it rained a little too much, the rain delays. But other than that, it was great.

I had plenty of time while I was packing to -- and I pack by myself, usually I have somebody come and help me pack but I wanted to take my time, think about things, go to the stadium and just hoping this year's outcome will be different.

Q. You talked about the need for better hitting with runners in scoring position. Is that the kind of thing that can be taught to those you already have or something that needs to come from the outside from somebody new?
DUSTY BAKER: No, it can be taught. I think anything can be taught if you trust the source it's coming from and if you listen and then apply it.

Almost everybody was taught something at some point in time in their careers. We didn't originate anything, thought process, how to do, there is no how to do book in baseball. These things are passed down to somebody that you trust their knowledge and judgment.

So the game is very simple. He who touches home plate the most wins. And everybody hollers with on-base percentage, but you've got to have clutch men to drive in the guys once they get on base.

It's in the process. You can't do everything in just one year. So this year I think we will be better, better with our staff, be better with the team. They know me, I know them, you know, like I had heard about certain guys, they had heard about me from other guys, but now we know each other. I think being familiar with each other will translate into even better performance.

Q. Are you a believer that you need to do things differently in the postseason than a team that earns its way to the postseason does in the regular season? In other words, there has been three disappointments here of not getting through the first round. How much of that is the idea that you're good but you also need a little luck, too?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. Oh, yeah, you definitely need some luck, but it depends on your health, depends on your personnel, who's out there. Injuries are one of the keys in the game but what's more important is who is injured when you get in that situation or who's hot. Baseball is a game of ones, we're one hit away, one pitch away, one call away from the umpire.

I remember watching the Nationals a few years ago and they were one pitch away when Storen had the people standing on their feet going crazy because if he had punched out Molina and he kept fouling off pitches, they might have gone to the World Series that year. We were one hit away or sacrifice fly from going this year. We did everything that we could do except get one more.

So I don't see the need to change. We won 95 games and we had three or four guys with years that weren't indicative of them, you know? Quite honestly, I wanted to win 100 games. I won 103 games my first year and I remember telling La Russa that's what I wanted to do this year. And I didn't tell you guys that because you would have written this guy is crazy already, remember I came in with a bang the way it was at this press conference last year (Laughter).

It was a situation of I remember La Russa telling me, You don't know what you've done.

And I said, No. What did I do?

And he said, You won 100 games.

And I was like, So? Why can't I do that every year? Nineteen years later, still haven't done it but I got quite a few 90s in there.

Q. As you watched the playoffs and saw how the Dodgers used Jansen, what did you think about how Francona and those guys used their closers?
DUSTY BAKER: I like how they had the resiliency to do that. It's a case-by-case sorta situation. I was a bit fearful because I still get credit for Wood and Prior, and even though that wasn't the case. And I didn't know about Mark Prior's injury until we got to Spring Training. I was the most shocked man in the whole world. I was kinda -- not kinda but I was taking care of them then. You won't know the outcome until Spring Training or into next year because you're risking injury, so which one is it? Which one is correct? Is it you put -- do you take that big of a risk now and sacrifice the future maybe or, you know, what is the answer?

It's the same way Lincecum and Cain and those guys, they won a bunch of World Series and stuff but those guys sacrificed something in maybe their careers. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Q. You did use Melancon in two innings in Game 5. He was capable of that. Were you in the hunt for Melancon since against the Giants?
DUSTY BAKER: Yes.

Q. What was your input?
DUSTY BAKER: I got input, but I'm not putting in money and that's what real input it, you know what I mean? My input was such that we all wanted Melancon, you know, but we don't have the budget or the packed stadium for 800 games in a row like the Giants do. They have more resources than we do. We got a lower budget and everybody has a budget. If we would have spent that on Melancon, we wouldn't have been able to spend anything on anybody else. But you've got to do what you can do inside the budget. If I had really input, I would have probably spent another $200 million. That's like my son that plays his video games and they won't accept his roster because it's like, $400 million.

Q. Wilson Ramos is coming down to Tampa, what kind of guy is he?
DUSTY BAKER: He's a heck of a guy, he's buffalo. I hated to lose him, but business is business. I didn't know he signed with Tampa, because I haven't kept up the last couple days but you're going to love him. He's a guy that was turning a corner in his career and one of the saddest days I had in my career and definitely last year is when he -- when we had to carry him off the field and I knew he was hurt and wasn't going to be able to play in the playoffs and wasn't going to be able to cash in on the great year that he was having at that time.

I spent a lot of time with the Cheyenne and Tatanka and the buffalo is one of their sacred spirits. And they adopted Big Ramos and they brought him some artifacts and different things when we went to Colorado and that meant a lot to me to see them accept him in that fashion, because I'm an honoree Cheyenne and now he is, too.

Q. He was a great hitter?
DUSTY BAKER: He has learned how to hit. He was my two-out, RBI clutch base hit to right field and that guy is slowly leaving the game. There are home run hitters, there are guys that do this and that, but that two-out, RBI single that you need, you know, to win the game, he's learned how to do that, he's learned how to get the sacrifice fly, he's learned how to drive in runs. I'm wishing him nothing but the best.

Q. How much thought have you given to the idea of using your top reliever in a nontraditional role particularly if you don't have an established closer?
DUSTY BAKER: Man, I haven't thought about it at all. I've been thinking about, you know, enjoying myself at home. I can't think baseball 24 hours a day, 12 months a year. I need a break. You know what I mean?

We all need a break from whatever we're doing. I mean, I think about some things, but I don't just dwell on -- the one thing I learned about having cancer and having a stroke and being out of the game is that there's more -- I know baseball is our life, it's been mine for a long time but there is more to life than just baseball, you know? As a matter of fact, when I get home, I'm going duck hunting. So it's like -- we'll see, depending on the personnel, you do what you do according to the personnel. We haven't decided on the personnel yet and I will let you know.

Q. You talked about budget with regard to Melancon and the closer position. When a manager has a relationship with one or more of the options out there like you have history with Chapman, how does that factor into the equation as the team goes forward?
DUSTY BAKER: It factors into it. I don't know if we have a person or not. I asked and I didn't get a definitive answer, so I assumed we hadn't done it. But as important as relationships are, I've just learned that most of the time the salary supersedes the relationship.

Q. What did you see from Ryan Zimmerman last season that gives you the confidence that he can return to the form he's had in the past?
DUSTY BAKER: Number one, he's healthy. He started out Spring Training and I had to program him because of his foot. I had to kind of bring him along slowly to make sure he started the season healthy. I think the fact that he is starting the season healthy, the fact that this guy is a quality guy, team leader. He didn't like the year he had. I got four or five guys that didn't like the year they had, probably.

You know, you look on the back of your bubble gum card, we all have years that we wish we could erase from our bubble gum card but it's there. I think he's going to have a big year, plus we need him to have that. Again, you know, we'll see. He started working out early, you know.

Jayson Werth started working out early. I'm urging all my guys to. The guys that got a taste of it, they don't like the way that season ended and the old guys here don't like how the season ended. I think our job is going to be tougher. When I look around, Atlanta is vastly improved. The Phillies are another year older. The Mets might get to pinch that back together. Miami is already a good team. I think we've got the toughest division around.

Q. You said that everybody needs a break and things of that nature, but when you got this job in the offseason last year and you talked about how much you wanted to get back into it, how much because of how it ended last year are you rejuvenated even more to do this and how long do you want to manage?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. Tell you the truth. The way I look at it, between my family, my hunger, between, you know, the prayers that I send up looking for answers and looking for clues, it will come to me, you know? Some of it's in your control and some of it's out of your control. If it was in my control, I wouldn't have been out two years in the first place but you can't hire yourself.

There is such a thing in this world, you know, people put too much credence on age. A lot of my friends are musicians and most of them have young musicians tutoring under them. Instead of the young musicians trying to get them out of there, they trying to hang with them and learn some chords from them while they're still on this earth and get some knowledge from them.

Baseball has gone the other way, sorta with the old ones to get out. But I always thought of having a grand council of baseball knowledge when I was starting to coach with Al Rosen and Spec Richardson and Frank Robinson, these guys that still love baseball and have a lot to offer. If they're all young who is teaching who? You know what I mean? And if they're all old, who is learning from whom?

Therefore, we need both age and wisdom and knowledge and we need youth and energy.

Q. Is Bryce Harper moving to center field a real possibility or would you guys rather not have the wear and tear?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, we haven't discussed it, really. Bryce can play it. At this point I would rather him not, just speaking honestly. That's a lot of wear and tear. You kinda got to have a wide receiver-type runner in center field. You know, wide receivers, they love to run. They just run, run, run and run. You gotta have a guy that just loves to run like, ala Gary Maddox, you look at Devon White. These guys, they run without any effort. I would just assume him stay out there and hit and throw people out.

Q. Question about Lopez. What are your expectations of him, and will he be a factor as a starter in the rotation?
DUSTY BAKER: We will have to see. We will have to see how that shakes out. He's come a long ways in a short period of time which lets you know his desire and his ability to learn and to be taught and then apply it upon command. The fact that the adjustments that he made in such a short period of time and a couple years ago this guy was a catcher and here he is now talking about him as one of our top, young pitchers which a lot of people have asked for in trades and stuff. And we're trying to keep him out of that and that shows you how we feel about him.

So, yeah, he's in our plans. We're not sure if it's starter or reliever. You ask him, he'll take whatever role we give him, he'll take that $500,000 minimum salary versus whatever he's going to make in the Minor Leagues, know when I mean? I'm sure he's happy in whatever spot we put him in for now.

Q. You saw McCutchen during his peak years and a few times last year. Did you have any impressions of him last year, did he seem like he had lost something especially in center field?
DUSTY BAKER: I saw a guy that might have been injured but not hurt enough not to play. That's what I saw. I couldn't figure out how we were throwing fastballs by him because you don't throw fastballs by him. He's a hands hitter, I think something might have been wrong with his hands, personally, from a guy who has had hand injuries.

No, I mean, he didn't gain weight, he hasn't lost any desire, he's only 30 years old. In modern baseball there is no such thing as a down year now. People don't tolerate -- they equate money to always doing good and it's not like that. So sometimes everything you hit is a hit and sometimes you have years where everything you hit is caught. So I just like to think he had a down year.

Q. If it wasn't an injury to the hands that would affect the hitting, as far as the defensive piece did you see anything differently out there for him?
DUSTY BAKER: Not really. I saw some stuff on ESPN, I think, because he didn't mess up a ball on us. But I saw some things on ESPN, but you don't know if it was lost in the crowd or if it was -- when you're used to a guy catching everything then you're used to it and you start asking, what's wrong? I don't know if his legs are hurt, I don't know, because we're not like football where you don't have to disclose an injury or what's wrong, we hide ours, football discloses it.

Q. Y'all hide yours?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. I don't want you to know -- you guys ask me, I ain't telling ya. (Chuckles.)

Q. At this point there was a lot of talk about Chris Sale and you weren't able to land him.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I was disappointed, you're always disappointed but how long does disappointment last? I was disappointed because I had heard great reports on him. I just thought about the possibility of, you know, boy, having a monster staff, but after disappointment then you've gotta figure out Plan B and C. And how long can you be disappointed, you know? Because you can't bring it back. So we'll see.

Q. You've seen how Trea Turner can play a lot of different positions. At this stage in a guy's career is it important that he's solidified at one or is that versatility --
DUSTY BAKER: No, I'd like to, I'm sure he would like to, but, again, it beats where he came from. Would he rather in his brief career be here and doing this or be in Triple A doing that? You know, we're going to decide on where he's going to play and a lot of it depends on, you know, who we pick up or what we do or whatever and that's going to have a lot to say with where he ends up.

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MLB.com Columnist

Lindsay Berra

Baker helps lead 'Play Ball' event in D.C.

Baker helps lead 'Play Ball' event in D.C.

WASHINGTON -- "My son Darren will get three hits in a game and I'll say, 'You know, son, in that fourth at-bat, you took that 2-0 fastball right down the middle,'" said Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker to a rapt group of parents at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night. "My wife has to remind me to stay positive. It's tough being a parent. It's way easier coaching someone else's kid."

Baker's address was part of the Positive Coaching Alliance's "parent station" at Major League Baseball's special Winter Meetings edition of its "Play Ball" initiative. While the parents listened to Baker, their children -- 200 of them, ages 7-13, from Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, Washington District 3 Little League, Prince George's County RBI program and the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy -- filled Gallaudet's gym.

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Lindsay Berra has covered a variety of sports, from baseball and hockey to tennis and the Olympics, since 1999. She joined MLB.com in 2013. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Conflicting reports on Harper, Nats talking extension

Conflicting reports on Harper, Nats talking extension

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- It has long been speculated that Bryce Harper could command the largest contract in baseball history when he reaches free agency after the 2018 season, but according to his agent, the two sides have not discussed such a deal at this time.

Harper's agent, Scott Boras, told MLB.com's Jon Morosi the only contractual discussions between the two sides have pertained to Harper's 2017 season, when the slugger is eligible for arbitration.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer, Perez commit to World Baseball Classic

Scherzer, Perez commit to World Baseball Classic

With the World Baseball Classic just a few months away, the rosters are beginning to take shape. More names surfaced Monday as the World Baseball Classic released an initial list of 30 players who are confirmed to be participating in the 2017 tournament.

Spanning 16 countries, the players include 24 Major League All-Stars, but the upcoming WBC, which will take place in March, provides a global stage for veterans and rising stars alike.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats contribute items to Forde charity auction

Nats contribute items to Forde charity auction

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The fifth annual Play Ball Charity Auction from Major League Baseball has an added meaning for all 30 clubs considering it will support the renovation of an existing youth baseball and softball field in memory of the late Mets public relations executive, Shannon Forde, who passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer.

A field in her hometown of Little Ferry, N.J., will be renamed "Shannon Forde Field" and will be renovated to include dugouts with protective fencing and benches, perimeter fencing, bleachers, backstops, scoreboard and field signs.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stevenson, Ward on Fall League's Top Prospects Team

Selected by AFL managers and coaches, the team recognizes 24 players who stood out

Stevenson, Ward on Fall League's Top Prospects Team

The 2016 Arizona Fall League came to an end on Nov. 19, when the Mesa Solar Sox, powered by a two-homer, 4-for-4 performance from Cubs top prospect Ian Happ, defeated the Surprise Saguaros, 6-1, in the championship game at Scottsdale Stadium.

Since then, MLBPipeline.com has broken down this year's impressive contingent of Fall League participants in different ways, highlighting the circuit's top performers and breakout prospects and even constructing an All-AFL Team.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Revere a free agent as Nats non-tender contract

Outfielder struggled in first season with Washington

Revere a free agent as Nats non-tender contract

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals did not tender a contract to Ben Revere on Friday, ending his Washington career after one season and making him a free agent.

The Nationals acquired Revere last offseason from Toronto, hoping that he could be the team's leadoff hitter and center fielder. But Revere's season was derailed by an oblique injury sustained on Opening Day and he never found his swing, struggling through the worst offensive season of his career.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Norris returns to Nats in deal with Padres

Norris returns to Nats in deal with Padres

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have filled their void at catcher, completing a trade with the Padres on Friday afternoon, acquiring Derek Norris in exchange for Minor League right-hander Pedro Avila.

Norris was picked by Washington in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft, but didn't break into the Majors until after he was traded to Oakland as a part of the deal for Gio Gonzalez in the winter of 2011. He was an All-Star in 2014, and the Padres acquired him the following offseason. The Nationals are counting on Norris, 27, to bounce back after the worst offensive season in his career.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Norris provides Werth with beard competition

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Norris provides Werth with beard competition

For years, Jayson Werth has been the lone caveman-like bearded National. Last year, Bryce Harper grew out a sculpted beard and Daniel Murphy often enjoys going a few days without a shave, but no one was going to challenge Werth for title of Largest Beard on the team. 

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Lobaton, Nationals reach deal for 2017

Catcher avoids arbitration with contract valued at $1.575M

Lobaton, Nationals reach deal for 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and catcher José Lobatón agreed on a one-year contract to avoid arbitration, the team announced Thursday. Lobatón and the Nationals reportedly settled for $1.575 million, according to the Washington Post, an increase of $187,500 from last season.

Washington's catching situation still carries some uncertainty, with Wilson Ramos almost certain to walk as a free agent. Even if Ramos were to return, he tore the ACL in his right knee in late September and will not be ready until at least a month after the season starts.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peace & glove: Owners, players reach CBA deal

New agreement includes change to home-field advantage in World Series

Peace & glove: Owners, players reach CBA deal

IRVING, Texas -- Major League Baseball's players and owners reached a tentative five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement through the 2021 season on Wednesday night. The parties will follow up today with a formal document, which then must be ratified by representatives of both sides. 

At 8:40 p.m. ET, an assortment of happy players, owners, lawyers and staffers poured from meeting rooms to exchange handshakes and hugs. That's how quickly 36 hours of round-the-clock negotiations ended, nearly four hours before today's deadline of 12:01 a.m. ET to reach a deal. Short of an agreement, the sport was faced with the best-case scenario of an extension or owners could have imposed a lockout.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bounce-back season earns Rendon NL Comeback Award

Limited to 80 games in 2015, 3rd baseman slugged 20 homers in '16

Bounce-back season earns Rendon NL Comeback Award

WASHINGTON -- Entering the 2016 season, it was unclear exactly what kind of production Anthony Rendon could provide for the Nationals. Would he be closer to the injury-riddled '15 season, or would he return to the form that allowed him to finish fifth in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award in '14?

Rendon answered those questions with a bounce-back 2016 campaign, for which he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award winner on Tuesday afternoon. The awards, voted on by MLB.com writers and revealed on MLB Network, are given to one player in each league who re-emerged on the field during the season. Rick Porcello won the American League version of the award.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

The Next Big Leaguers: Nationals' Stevenson

A team-by-team look at future key contributors who starred in the 2016 Arizona Fall League

The Next Big Leaguers: Nationals' Stevenson

The Arizona Fall League always is loaded with talent, and it was stronger than usual in 2016. In the initial installment of MLBPipeline.com's "The Next Big Leaguers," which premieres Tuesday, we focused on five prospects: Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, Twins shortstop Nick Gordon, Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Red Sox infielder Yoan Moncada and Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres.

We could have spotlighted many more promising prospects if not limited by time constraints, and below we'll do exactly that.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats make a difference at Food and Friends

Nats make a difference at Food and Friends

WASHINGTON -- Members of the Nationals' front office spent Monday preparing turkeys, portioning out side dishes and helping fix meals during the organization's annual visit to Food and Friends ahead of Thanksgiving.

Food and Friends helps prepare and deliver meals and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses within the Washington, D.C., area. The organization was founded in 1988, during the AIDS crisis, and began serving people with HIV/AIDS because of how often they had been ostracized and left without access to nutritional food. The Nationals have volunteered there around Thanksgiving for the past nine years.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Nats' Stevenson among Top 25 Fall League prospects

Nats' Stevenson among Top 25 Fall League prospects

While the most talented team doesn't always win the championship, it did in the Arizona Fall League. The Mesa Solar Sox wrapped up the East Division crown on the final day of the regular season before rolling to an easy victory in the AFL's one-game playoff for its first title since 2003.

Mesa had the league's deepest lineup, as evidenced by its seven hitters who rank among the AFL's 20 best prospects below. The Solar Sox had star power with outfielders Eloy Jimenez (Cubs) and Bradley Zimmer (Indians) and second baseman Ian Happ (Cubs), all of whom sit in the 20s on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. They also had emerging talents such as shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang and outfielder Greg Allen, who have been overshadowed in a deep Indians system, and league home run leader Brian Anderson (Marlins No. 4 prospect), who had support for making our list.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats get prospect arm Cordero from Phils

Nats get prospect arm Cordero from Phils

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals added a potential bullpen arm when they acquired right-hander Jimmy Cordero from the Phillies on Wednesday morning for a player to be named. Cordero was designated for assignment last week by Philadelphia after a shoulder injury during Spring Training last season kept him out until July.

Before the injury, Cordero, who was the No. 25 prospect in the Phillies system as rated by MLBPipeline, was projected as a future back-end of the bullpen arm with a fastball that sits in the high 90s and has even hit 100 mph. Cordero, 25, owns a strong strikeout rate in his career, with 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 3.80 career ERA over five years in the Minors.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer's first two Nationals years prove exceptional

2016 NL Cy winner has turned in 2 no-hitters, 20-strikeout game

Scherzer's first two Nationals years prove exceptional

WASHINGTON -- When the Nationals shocked the baseball world by signing Max Scherzer two offseasons ago, they did so without an obvious need for starting pitching, aiming to fortify their rotation with an ace for years to come.

And after the first two seasons of that seven-year, $210 million contract -- the biggest in team history -- the Nationals could not have asked for more.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Raines seeks HOF spot in final year on ballot

Raines seeks HOF spot in final year on ballot

NEW YORK -- Tim Raines seems to be inching closer to Cooperstown. He is hoping his 10th and final year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame will lead to election.

Raines came close last January. He was named on 69.8 percent of the ballots casted by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' Stevenson on MLB Pipeline's All-AFL team

Nats' Stevenson on MLB Pipeline's All-AFL team

The Arizona Fall League's six-week season concluded with Saturday's championship game. And while it can be difficult to evaluate players in such a limited amount of time, especially with frequent roster fluctuations, some performances in the Fall League simply stand out more than others.

Here is a lineup of prospects who impressed in this year's Fall League as MLBPipeline.com's All-AFL Team:

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Snyder among 5 Spring Training non-roster invitees

Snyder among 5 Spring Training non-roster invitees

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have signed five players to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: Infielder Brandon Snyder, left-hander Braulio Lara, right-handers Derek Eitel and Dustin Antolin and infielder Corban Joseph have all been signed with a chance to compete for bench and bullpen spots in Washington next season.

Snyder, a former first-round Draft pick with the Orioles who attended high school in Virginia, has played in 120 career Major League games with four teams, most recently with the Braves in 2016. He is a career .242/.279/.459 hitter but knocked four home runs with a .907 OPS in 37 games last season in Atlanta. Snyder, who will turn 30 on Wednesday, has played the corner infield positions most often but also has some experience in the outfield.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Stevenson among breakout prospects from Arizona Fall League

Stevenson among breakout prospects from Arizona Fall League

The 25th season of the Arizona Fall League is now complete, and the silver anniversary edition of the league was one of the best in terms of top prospects and outstanding performances.

It wasn't just the elite-level prospects and the more known names who stood out, though it was certainly exciting to see the Gleyber Torreses of the world live up to, and exceed, expectations. But every year, the AFL helps the more under-the-radar types put themselves more firmly on the prospect map.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer wins MLB Awards for Best Pitcher, Performance

Scherzer wins MLB Awards for Best Pitcher, Performance

WASHINGTON -- It's easy to tell once Max Scherzer finds himself in a groove on the mound. He fires another strike three and then stomps around behind the mound, often yelling to himself, as the ball is thrown around the infield. Once he receives the ball again, Scherzer quickly stands back on the mound, his eyes locked into the catcher and ready to flood the strike zone again with pitches that often flummox opposing batters. The symptoms of a historic performance can be easy to spot, but for an opposing team, far more difficult to stop.

Scherzer was at perhaps the height of his talent facing his former Tigers teammates on May 11, when he tied a Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Scherzer won the Esurance MLB Award for Best Performance for that display of dominance and for Best Pitcher, when the awards were revealed on Friday night.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats, Heisey agree to 1-year deal

Nats, Heisey agree to 1-year deal

The Washington Nationals and outfielder Chris Heisey have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, the team announced Saturday morning.

The monetary details of the agreement have not been announced, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported last week that it's a $1.4 million deal and includes performance bonuses.

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Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.