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Washington Nationals: Top 5 Offseason Storylines Revisited

Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Adam LaRoche all had surgery. The Nationals will reportedly hire Matt Williams. It was a big weekend for news in Washington. There should be more to come as soon as the World Series is over. What's next for the Nats?

Patrick McDermott

In the immediate aftermath of the 86-76 Washington Nationals' disappointing 2013 campaign, we looked at the Top 5 Storylines or questions facing the nation's capital's Nats this winter as they assess their roster and move toward 2014.

Two of the issues we listed among the five were resolved this weekend:

  1. Bryce Harper's Knee; Surgery?
  2. Nats' Next Manager?
  3. Nationals' 4th-5th Starters In 2014?
  4. Nats' 2014 Bullpen?
  5. Pressure? How Do Nats React?

On Saturday afternoon, the Nationals released information on three of their players who had surgery last week. Bryce Harper, 21, was diagnosed with bursitis in his left knee which cost him over a month on the DL in June. The 2010 no.1 overall pick reportedly had surgery this past Wednesday, as the Washington Post's James Wagner wrote, to "debride and repair the bursa sac" in the knee he injured colliding outfield walls in Turner Field and Dodger Stadium. The report said Harper would resume baseball activities in four to six weeks. Though Harper thought he could avoid surgery, Davey Johnson told reporters late this season that it was a possibility.

"Since everybody is finding out, everything went well on Wednesday! Thanks for all the support and prayers! Be back strong as ever!" - Bryce Harper via Twitter (@BHarp3407)

Stephen Strasburg having arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow was more of a surprise. Strasburg dealt with a variety of issues this season, but there was no talk of surgery for the 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick until after the procedure was performed on Friday. He too is said to be four to six weeks away from resuming offseason activities.

Adam LaRoche's health was an issue all season as he struggled to keep weight on due to a problem related to the medication he takes for ADD. On Wednesday, LaRoche had surgery to remove lose bodies from his left elbow. It's the second surgery for LaRoche in four years in D.C. After signing a two-year deal in 2011, the left-handed hitting first baseman tore the labrum in his left shoulder and had surgery which ended his first season with the Nationals in May.

The 33-year-old first baseman is also four to six weeks away from getting back into this offseason workout routine.

All of the injury news, of course, came a day after the Nationals' choice to become the fifth/sixth manager since 2005 leaked to the press and's Ken Rosenthal in particular, who wrote the following on Twitter Friday morning:

Subsequent reports have confirmed the Nationals' intention to hire the 47-year-old former major league infielder who served as the Arizona Diamondbacks' third base coach last season. Williams was long rumored to be Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo's top choice if Washington went outside the organization to find Davey Johnson's replacement.

All that's keeping the Nats from making the announcement, according to the multiple reports, is the World Series and MLB's preference that no one makes major announcements until it's over.

"'We certainly go four deep with a healthy [Ross] Detwiler. With the depth that we have in our young starting pitching, we could certainly fill from within.'" - Mike Rizzo to's Mark Zuckerman

Rizzo told reporters in September that finding a new manager was the first order of business this winter so that the new hire could have a say in roster decisions. Assuming Williams is named as the new skipper, the Nationals can then move on to personnel matters. Do they find the left-handed reliever they failed to last winter? A moment after Rizzo said a healthy Ross Detwiler and the young-ish arms they have in Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and maybe Nathan Karns gave them options at the back of the rotation in that late-season interview, he said he would, of course, remain open to any possibilities.

And what about the bench? Chad Tracy's gone. No more Shark. Scott Hairston's under contract. Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore will be back. Who is the backup shortstop again? Who's the fifth outfielder? Do the Nationals need a veteran catcher in case Wilson Ramos' injury issues continue to be a problem? The World Series will be over soon. Then the fun starts... and the rumors.

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