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Eight Washington Nationals now free agents: Next step? Who gets qualifying offers?

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Six Washington Nationals became free agents earlier this afternoon and two more Nats joined them when the team declined to pick up their options for the 2016 campaign. So which free agents will get qualifying offers?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With the official end of the 2015 campaign, six Washington Nationals became free agents along with 133 other major leaguers. In addition, two more 2015 Nats became free agents when their options for 2016 were declined.

Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span, Matt Thornton, Dan Uggla and Jordan Zimmermann became free agents once the season ended and they will now be eligible to negotiate and sign with any club beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Before that, however, the Nationals have to make decisions on which of the pending free agents will get qualifying offers.

The qualifying offer this year is a 1-year/$15.8M deal, which is the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball.

At the start of the season, Desmond, Fister, Span and Zimmermann were considered likely to receive qualifying offers at the end of the year, but Fister and Span struggled with injuries this season and are now questions marks while Desmond and Zimmermann still seem good bets to receive the offers, which no players have accepted since they became part of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2012.

The Nationals have until this coming Friday at 5:00 PM to extend qualifying offers, and the players who receive them then have another week (until November 13th) to decide whether or not to accept them. If they reject the offers the Nats receive a compensatory draft pick in return.

In addition to the six players who became free agents today, the Nationals declined options on both reliever Casey Janssen and outfielder Nate McLouth, making both free agents as well.

Janssen, 34, signed a 1-year/$5M free agent deal with the Nationals last January that included a $7M option for 2016 or a $1.5M buyout.

The Nats reportedly opted for the buyout today after the veteran reliever, whose season started late after a shoulder issue this Spring, put up a 4.95 ERA, a 4.08 FIP and a .242/.288/.431 line against over 40 IP.

McLouth, 34, signed a 2-year/$10.75M free agent deal with the Nationals in 2013, but struggled with injuries (related to a labrum tear in his right shoulder) in both years of the deal, which included a $6.5M club option for 2016 or a $750,000 buyout. He never played for the Nats this season.

Will the Nationals make qualifying offers to any of their free agents? Will Zimmermann and Desmond get them? Will Span take one if offered and look to bounce back from his injury-filled campaign? Where will Fister end up after his sort-of disastrous campaign, which ended with the veteran right-hander pitching out of the bullpen?