MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Watch HOF announcement coverage live, 5 ET today

Watch HOF announcement coverage live, 5 ET today

NEW YORK -- Wednesday is the big day. The National Baseball Hall of Fame announces its Class of 2017, selected in a vote last month by the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

As many as five candidates -- and possibly six -- could be elected according to the public ballots amassed online, with Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell looking all but certain, plus Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman hovering around the 75 percent threshold. Even Edgar Martinez has made huge gains from last year and is within reach of election.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Are Nats willing to spend more?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from Washington fans

Inbox: Are Nats willing to spend more?

WASHINGTON -- Pitchers and catchers report to Nationals' Spring Training four weeks from Tuesday, and while Washington still has a few items left on its to-do list, it did cross a big one off last week by settling with its four arbitration-eligible players to avoid a hearing for the second consecutive season.

It gives the Nationals some clarity on their Opening Day payroll, and this week's Inbox begins with a look at where that payroll stands.

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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.

Around the Horn: Zim to hold down first base

Around the Horn: Zim to hold down first base

With the start of Spring Training just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the 2017 season. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to West Palm Beach, Fla., by Feb. 14, and it's time to break down the Nationals' roster.

This is the second installment of a multi-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at the projected starters and backups heading into the season, examining first base.

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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 settle with Harper, all other arb-eligibles

Washington will avoid hearing after 2015 NL MVP, Rendon, Roark and Norris settle

Nats settle with Harper, all other arb-eligibles

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals avoided any arbitration hearings this offseason after agreeing to terms with all four of their arbitration-eligible players on Friday.

Washington avoided arbitration with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, right-hander Tanner Roark and catcher Derek Norris, agreeing to one-year deals with each player.

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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 sign veteran lefty Cotts to Minors deal

Nats sign veteran lefty Cotts to Minors deal

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed veteran left-hander Neal Cotts to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team announced Friday morning.

The Nats have two left-handers already slated for their Opening Day bullpen in Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez, but Cotts could have a chance to break camp with the Major League club if he can prove he has something left in the tank. Washington carried three left-handers in its bullpen for most of last season, and manager Dusty Baker enjoys the matchup flexibility it gives him late in games.

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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

Robles named to Pipeline's All-Defense Team

Padres' Margot garners most votes for best defensive prospect

Robles named to Pipeline's All-Defense Team

These days, there may be more value placed on defense and certainly more time spent on evaluating and quantifying it than ever before. When MLBPipeline.com surveyed front-office officials as to which prospects stood out most for their glovework, there was no shortage of candidates.

In fact, there were so many talented defenders that among the 18 votes we received, no player garnered more than Padres outfielder Manuel Margot's three and a half. Thirteen players received at least a half a vote -- we allowed executives to split their picks -- and another five were brought up as worthy of discussion.

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

Inbox: How will Nationals fill closer role?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from Washington fans

Inbox: How will Nationals fill closer role?

WASHINGTON -- After a quick start to the Nationals' offseason, during which they have seemingly been involved in each rumor and connected to every player on the market, things have gone quiet.

While Washington has made some improvements, the standout item on its to-do list at the start of the offseason -- finding a closer -- still hasn't been crossed off.

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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.

Roark to pitch for Team USA in WBC 2017

Nationals right-hander was invited before Scherzer had to bow out with stress fracture

Roark to pitch for Team USA in WBC 2017

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark has committed to play for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

The addition of Roark should soften the blow suffered by Team USA when its projected ace, Max Scherzer, pulled out Monday on account of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

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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.

Nats retain Minors staffs, adjust strength coaches

WASHINGTON -- Valuing stability throughout the organization, especially as their top prospects rise through the system, the Nationals retained their Minor League managers and their entire coaching staffs for the 2017 season.

Billy Gardner will continue to manage Triple-A Syracuse, Matt LeCroy will return with Double-A Harrisburg, Tripp Keister is back with Class A Advanced Potomac and Patrick Anderson continues to lead Class A Hagerstown. Spin Williams will return as senior advisor of player development, and Randy Knorr will return as special advisor for player development.

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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 should gamble on Holland as closer

Nats should gamble on Holland as closer

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are still in the hunt for a closer with the start of a new calendar year. They missed out on top free-agent options like Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen, but they have remained persistent in their search for a relief ace.

Washington has players on its roster that could be capable of filling in, and the club has maintained that it believes those players can succeed in the role. However, the Nationals' continued search for a closer also signals they would be more comfortable acquiring someone with experience. So my bold prediction for the remainder of the offseason is that the Nats will sign Greg Holland to become their closer.

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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.

Finger injury to sideline Scherzer for WBC '17

Finger injury to sideline Scherzer for WBC '17

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer has a stress fracture on the knuckle of his right ring finger, the Nationals revealed Monday. The rehab process for that finger will force him to withdraw from pitching for Team USA in this year's World Baseball Classic.

Despite the injury, the Nationals say Scherzer is expected to be a full participant in Spring Training.

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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.

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs. 

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Around the Horn: Norris to lead Nats behind plate

Washington traded for veteran in offseason to replace departed Ramos

Around the Horn: Norris to lead Nats behind plate

With the start of Spring Training just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the 2017 season. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to West Palm Beach, Fla., by Feb.14, and it's time to break down the Nationals' roster.

This is the first part of a multi-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at the projected starters and backups heading into the season, beginning with the Nats' catching situation.

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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.

Just you weight: Bryce Harper lifts 505 lbs!

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Just you weight: Bryce Harper lifts 505 lbs!

Look, it may be impossible to understand how strong Bryce Harper really is. We can watch him mash baseballs into the Andromeda Galaxy, sure, but until humanity achieves interstellar travel, we may never know just how far his home runs reach. We can gaze upon his bulging muscles, but their latent power escapes rational thought. His true strength seems unfathomable.

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Roark not taking anything for granted in '17

Righty established himself last season, but will go to camp with mentality that he doesn't have 'free spot'

Roark not taking anything for granted in '17

WASHINGTON -- Tanner Roark proved in 2016 that he can be a dominant starting pitcher. He had carried that burden on his shoulder entering Spring Training last year, wanting to show everyone that he should never have been booted from the rotation.

After his success as a starter last season, Roark has established himself as an integral part of the Nationals' rotation. But the same desire to prove himself remains.

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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 add Watson to pro scouting department

Nats add Watson to pro scouting department

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have hired De Jon Watson, the D-backs' former senior vice president of baseball operations, to their pro scouting department as a special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo.

Watson spent the past two seasons overseeing Arizona's scouting and player development departments. He worked closely with then-chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and then-general manager Dave Stewart before the D-backs decided not to pick up Watson's contract option in September and eventually parted ways with Stewart in an effort to overhaul their regime.

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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.

Inbox: Will Nats and A's swing another deal?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers fans' questions

Inbox: Will Nats and A's swing another deal?

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have announced their Spring Training reporting dates, with pitchers and catchers due in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 14 and position players to follow Feb. 17.

So as the countdown begins, the Nats have a few items on their to-do list before they pack up for Florida. This week's Inbox takes a look at another potential closing option, bench possibilities, questions about starting pitching health and depth ... and Mike Trout.

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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.

Finding a closer, filling bench on Nats' to-do list

Washington also wants to settle Baker's contract before final year

Finding a closer, filling bench on Nats' to-do list

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have already had a busy offseason, competing for many of the top names on the free-agent market and pulling off trades for a new center fielder in Adam Eaton and catcher in Derek Norris.

But they are not done. With nearly six weeks until they report to their new Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., the Nats should continue to be one of the most active teams. Here are a few things the Nationals need to accomplish before they head off to Florida.

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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.

With reinforcements, title remains Nats' goal

Eaton added to strong foundation as Washington aims for a healthy 2017

With reinforcements, title remains Nats' goal

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have undertaken the tricky task this offseason of trying to improve a 95-win team that just barely suffered defeat in the National League Division Series.

In some ways, the Nationals were so strong and so close to breaking through, and with a few bounce-back seasons and some good health, they could find themselves in position to come away with the ultimate goal of a championship. On the other hand, they have made a notable addition in the outfield and still have some question marks in the bullpen going into next season.

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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.

Source: Murphy, Goldy to play for US in Classic

Source: Murphy, Goldy to play for US in Classic

The United States added two more All-Stars to what is turning into a powerful national team roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy and D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt have committed to play for Team USA in the Classic, set for March 2017, sources tell MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Murphy and Goldschmidt are the last two National League Most Valuable Player runner-ups, with Goldschmidt placing second in the voting in 2015 and Murphy doing so this past season.

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

After season of highs, Nats' NLDS loss stung

After season of highs, Nats' NLDS loss stung

WASHINGTON -- Evaluating the Nationals' 2016 season is a difficult task. There were so many positives to take away from the year, even though it ultimately ended before they would have liked and left a bitter taste in their mouths.

Washington bounced back from an all-around disappointing 2015 season to win 95 games and the National League East crown for the third time in the past five seasons. The Nationals had a new manager, standout and historic performances from some of their biggest stars and the emergence of a few new stars.

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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.

Most amazing National League games of 2016

Most amazing National League games of 2016

The 2016 season in Major League Baseball was one of inspiring feats of athleticism, ballparks packed with ecstatic fans and the undeniable drama that comes with America's pastime. At the end of the 162-game push and an amazing October, one team was standing: the Chicago Cubs, who broke a 108-year championship drought and won the World Series for the National League.

But 14 other NL teams played all season and had their own pinnacle moments. In consultation with each club's beat reporter, here is the game of the year for each club in the NL in 2016:

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zim out to prove he has hits left in tank

Nationals first baseman aims to bounce back from worst statistical season

Zim out to prove he has hits left in tank

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman was once the undisputed face of the franchise, the very first pick after the Nationals relocated to D.C. who endured the 100-loss seasons and heartache before enjoying the team's success during the past five seasons.

After spending the previous two seasons hampered by injuries, Zimmerman proceeded to put up the worst statistical season of his career in 2016. It was enough to lose favor with some fans, and a vocal number of them began to call for his benching and perhaps his release.

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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.

Scherzer's 20-strikeout gem one for the ages

NL Cy Young Award winner's performance one of top baseball stories in '16

Scherzer's 20-strikeout gem one for the ages

WASHINGTON -- It was not until after the eighth inning on what would become a history-making Wednesday night at Nationals Park that Max Scherzer glanced at the scoreboard and realized what he was in the midst of. Once he saw his strikeout total, then 18, he began to think about the history in his grasp for the ninth inning.

The 35,695 Nationals fans in attendance stood and cheered from the moment Scherzer took the mound for the final frame and etched his name in the record books yet again. On May 11, he became just the fourth pitcher in Major League history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning outing. His dominant masterpiece was one of the best individual performances of the 2016 season and one of the best pitching performances in baseball history.

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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.

Inbox: What are Rizzo's backup plans?

Nationals beat reporter Jamal Collier answers fans' questions

Inbox: What are Rizzo's backup plans?

WASHINGTON -- The proverbial Hot Stove has cooled off a bit lately for the Nationals, who continue to weigh their options on filling out the closer role. The Nats are no strangers to last-minute Christmas shopping, considering reports of last year's deal with Daniel Murphy broke on Christmas Eve.

So while nothing appears imminent at the moment, things can change quickly. Still, there's plenty to discuss:

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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.

Turner dishes on holiday traditions, offseason

Turner dishes on holiday traditions, offseason

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner will have some peace of mind this offseason as he prepares to enter the 2017 campaign with a defined role as the shortstop for the Nationals. So after a breakout rookie season that saw him finish second in the voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Turner will take it easy for a few days to enjoy Christmas with his family in Florida, including competing in a fun -- and competitive -- annual family tradition.

Helping to continue a tradition that dates to the early days of MLB.com, Turner took a few minutes last week to chat about his offseason and to share some holiday memories.

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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.

Ross taking steps to maintain health

Shoulder feeling good, Nats righty resumes usual offseason routine

Ross taking steps to maintain health

WASHINGTON -- When Nationals right-hander Joe Ross initially landed on the disabled list in July, he had no inclination that he would end up missing more than the next two months. And yet the right shoulder inflammation kept him out until late September, enough time to make three starts before his first career playoff start against the Dodgers.

That shoulder is back to normal, and after taking a few weeks off to let his body rest completely, Ross is back to working out on his usual offseason routine.

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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.

Nationals could look internally for closer

If free-agent and trade options don't pan out, club has options

Nationals could look internally for closer

WASHINGTON -- Several teams have filled a need at closer this offseason, yet the Nationals still find themselves without one. Finding bullpen help was perhaps Washington's top priority entering the offseason, and the club remains almost certain to add to its relief corps before next season begins, even though it has been unsuccessful in its first few attempts. 

The Nationals made offers to free agents Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen, before they signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. The club also had reported interest in Brad Ziegler before he signed with the Marlins, was in on Wade Davis before he was shipped to the Cubs and has been connected to virtually every reliever who could change homes this offseason.

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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.