• Still no word on Orlando Hudson...The Nationals watched Ben Sheets pitch this afternoon, but received nary a mention on the MLB Network's coverage of the showcase...(Who went to watch for Washington? Rizzo?). Four Nationals avoided arbitration and the uncomfortable process of having your own team detail your faults...Josh Willingham received a raise, signing a one-year/$4.6M dollar contract according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's Twitter, which is up $1.65 M from last season's $2.95 million, one-year deal. Jason Bergmann and the Nationals agreed on a one-year deal for $750 grand, after the right-hander earned $439,000 last season. Details of the contracts signed by the Nationals' other two no-longer arbitration eligible players, catchers Jesus Flores and Wil Nieves, were unavailable, but the four signings leave only two relievers unsigned, Sean Burnett, (who's asking for $925,000 with Washington offering $775,000), and Brian Bruney, (who wants a raise to $1.85 million from the $1.25 million the NY Yankees paid him last season while the Nationals think $1.5M will do)...
• Hudson's Destination
• Olney On Harper
• New York Newsday's (newsday.com)'s Ken Davidoff wrote today that he believed the nation's capital could be the most likely destination for free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, and if Mr. Davidoff's right Washington might get the 31-year-old Gold Glove-winning-infielder for closer to the $3-4 million they're rumored to be offering than the $8-9 million-a-year Hudson reportedly wants:
"Respected and beloved throughout baseball...except when it's time to pay him. Amazingly, Hudson appears in line to sign his second-straight under-market contract, unless the Mets somehow find a taker for Luis Castillo (extremely unlikely, it appears) and then sign Hudson. The Nationals appear to be Hudson's most likely landing spot."
• At this point last year I was already sure that the Washington Nationals were going to select Stephen Strasburg with the no.1 overall pick in the '09 Draft, but this season things are a little less clear. DC GM Mike Rizzo's made it known that the Nationals will be following the SI cover-kid Bryce Harper, but he was also quoted by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan in a season-ending article entitled, "Q&A with Mike Rizzo", saying Harper, "...certainly hasn't separated himself like Strasburg did last year."
Harper, like Strasburg, has been the consensus no. 1 pick for a while now, and inevitably, scouts are getting around to dissecting his skill set, and according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney:
"Scouts love his potential, and as with all players, there are areas of concerns, and in Harper's case, it's his size. "He's 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds at age 17," said one talent evaluator. "So you wonder how much bigger he can get."
Mr. Olney's unnamed "evaluator" goes on to compare Harper unfavorably to 6'5'', 220lb Minnesota Twins' catcher Joe Mauer, saying, "Harper has a strong arm, but there is not nearly the fluidity that Mauer has."
(ed. note - "Mr. Olney also mentions the Rangers as potential suitors for free agent right-hander Ben Sheets, who, you might remember, had agreed to a contract with Texas before the full extent of the injuries to his elbow were revealed...You'll have to be an INSIDER to read the full text of Mr. Olney's column, but his column alone is reason enough...")