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Nationals Sign Shawn Kelley

The Washington Nationals have agreed a three-year, $15 million deal with reliever Shawn Kelley, according to CBS’s Jon Heyman. Kelley spent last year with the San Diego Padres after two years with the New York Yankees and four with the Seattle Mariners.

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Nationals Swap Escobar for Gott

The Washington Nationals have traded infielder Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels for right-handed reliever Trevor Gott and 28-year-old AA pitcher Michael Brady. CBS’s Jon Heyman was the first to report that the deal was done. LA Times writer Mike DiGiovanna reports that the Nationals will also send $1.5 million to the Angels in the deal. Continue reading…

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Nationals To Sign Yusmeiro Petit

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, the Washington Nationals have agreed with right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit on a one-year deal. Petit was non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants after the season. MLB Trade Rumors reports that it will be a one-year, $2.5 million deal with a $3 million club option that can be bought out for $500,000. The option vests with 80 innings pitched.

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Offseason Preview: The Infield

The Nationals’ offense was excellent last year, ranking third in the NL in runs scored and fourth in wRC+. But that team relied on a historic year from Bryce Harper, an unexpected offensive outpouring from Yunel Escobar, and what ended up being a decent season from Ian Desmond. None of those can be counted upon for 2016, and the team will lean heavily on extreme injury risks like Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Anthony Rendon.

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Offseason Preview: The Rotation

In part one of this series, I discussed the options the Nationals had in building their bullpen, an area that will need plenty of work. The rest of the roster is less in need of drastic overhaul, but the team has plenty of options to retool the rotation and offense for 2016 and beyond.

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Offseason Preview: The Bullpen

Last year, I wrote a long offseason article about the Nats’ long-term strategy in the face of Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Doug Fister, and Tyler Clippard becoming free agents, espousing trading some of them to ensure long-term contention. This offseason is a bit different, with only Stephen Strasburg set to hit the market after the year. So instead of a long-term bent, this offseason’s article (now articles, plural) will instead focus on the minutiae, focusing on areas of need for the Nats and identifying potential moves to address them. For the bullpen article, that’s pretty much just listing relievers. Here we go!

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Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker talks with visitors behind the batting cage during the baseball team's workout in Pittsburgh Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. The Reds are scheduled to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild-card game Tuesday in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Navigating The Five Stages of Grief Surrounding Nationals’ Bungled Managerial Hiring

If, like me, you went to bed at a reasonable hour on Monday evening because baseball season was over, and you looked forward to a reasonable amount of sleep for the first time in months, you woke up to quite a shock. Not only had Bud Black, the Nationals “next manager”, rejected an insulting offer from the team, but Dusty Baker became the team’s next manager before it was discernible what had even occurred.

This post is not about whether Baker was the right choice. That will be determined on the field in 2016 and beyond, as well as in hundreds of think pieces between now and April. I think what many Nats fans need now is assistance in exploring the stages of grief they’ve felt or will feel as the organization navigates its latest dumpster fire.

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TNB’s Cheat Sheet To The Nationals’ Managerial Search

The search is on for the next manager of the Washington Nationals. To track the latest candidates for the position, The Nats Blog introduces the managerial cheat sheet. When the Nationals interview a new candidate, this cheat sheet will be updated to provide information on that person—including his experience, as well as our theories why he will or will not get the job.

Dusty Baker

Background: Managed a total of 20 seasons in the majors, including stints with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. Earned two All-Star selections as a player. Recently served as an analyst during TBS postseason coverage.

Why he could get the job: Six postseason trips. World Series appearance in 2002. Worked with a clubhouse that featured Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, meaning that he can probably handle any mix of players.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: Poor reputation in managing the workloads of young pitchers. Known for his sometimes mind-scratching in-game decisions. Lifetime postseason record of 19-26.

Fun Fact: His upcoming memoir Kiss the Sky includes a claim that he once smoked a joint with Jimi Hendrix.


Bud Black

Background: Managed the San Diego Padres from 2008 to June 2015. Pitched in the majors from 1981 to 1995.

Why he could get the job: Perceived as a player’s manager with an inclination towards advanced metrics. Posted some respectable seasons amidst an unstable ownership situation.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: Lifetime .477 winning percentage. No postseason experience.

Fun Fact: Starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals the day of the George Brett pine tar incident.


Alex Cora

Background: Former infielder who played his last season with the Nationals in 2011. Currently an analyst for ESPN. Also interviewed by the Padres and the Miami Marlins.

Why he could get the job: Respected for leadership and aptitude as a player, prompting many in the game—including Mike Rizzo—to label him a future manager.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: Never managed nor served on a major league coaching staff.

Fun Fact: Capped an 18-pitch at-bat against the Cubs’ Matt Clement with a homer. The entire sequence of events lives on YouTube.


Ron Gardenhire

Background: Manager of the Minnesota Twins from 2002 to 2014. Played five seasons with the New York Mets.

Why he could get the job: Led the Twins to six division titles. Amassed a .507 winning percentage. Considered a player’s manager who could be a welcomed contrast to Matt Williams.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: Finished Twins tenure with four straight losing seasons; earned a reputation for underutilizing advanced metrics. Owns an abysmal 6-21 career record in the postseason.

Fun Fact: He is the subject of the greatest garden gnome giveaway in the history of baseball.


Andy Green

Background: Played parts of four seasons in the majors. Now the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Like Cora, he has been interviewed by the Padres.

Any prior managerial experience? Yes. Managed in the D-Backs’ farm system for four seasons, including two at the Double-A level.

Why he could get the job: Connected to Rizzo from his time in Arizona. Has minor league experience. Regarded as a future manager.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: No major league experience. Connections to Rizzo might not carry much weight after Williams’ struggles.

Fun Fact: Shares his name with a Royal Air Force Wing Commander and World Land Speed record holder.


Phil Nevin

Background: First overall choice in the 1992 draft. Played 12 seasons in the majors, earning an All-Star selection with the Padres in 2001.

Any prior managerial experience? Yes. Seven seasons across independent and minor league ranks, including the last two with the D-Backs’ Triple-A squad.

Why he could get the job: Managerial prospect for past several off-seasons. Clubs besides the Nationals—including the Marlins—are currently considering him.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: No major league experience.

Fun Fact: As a member of the Tigers in 1997, Nevin ended Randy Johnson’s no-hit bid with a single in the bottom of the eighth. That clip is only worth watching if your nostalgia for the 90’s has extended to The Big Unit’s mullet.


Tim Wallach

Background: Earned five All-Star appearances with the Montreal Expos. Collected over 2,000 hits. Member of the Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff since 2013, spending the last two seasons as bench coach.

Why he could get the job? Four years of minor league managing experience, including two at the Triple-A level. Has come close to landing managerial posts in the past. Experience coaching a contender in a large market.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: No major league managerial experience. Looks to be in the running for the Dodgers’ vacancy.

Fun Fact: One of the last players in baseball history to wear flapless batting helmet.


Ron Wotus

Background: Bench coach for the San Francisco Giants. Has served on their major league staff since 1998. Played parts of two seasons in the majors.

Why he could get the job: Seven seasons of minor league managing, three of which were spent in Triple-A. First turn as a major league skipper seems like an inevitability. Has been Bruce Bochy’s right-hand man for three World Series titles in six seasons.

Why he wouldn’t get the job: No major league managerial experience.

Fun Fact: Judged by this 1976 profile, Wotus had an unmatched hairstyle as a high school freshman.

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Federal Reserve: Arizona Fall League Player Reports

On Monday, some of the Washington Nationals’ notable prospects took the field for the Salt River Rafters for the beginning of the Arizona Fall League. The hype surrounding this group has been reduced, as top infield prospects Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner were pulled from the league this past week. Difo will not play after fracturing a bone in his left hand at the end of the regular season, and the Nationals have opted to give Turner some rest after his career-high 143 games played between the minors and the majors this year.

The remaining prospects in this year’s AFL season offer plenty of intrigue. To preview the Nationals’ prospects, this Federal Reserve will offer player-by-player reports.  Continue reading…