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Wire Taps: Juan Soto in Japan; Bryce Harper in Vegas; What’s next year’s payroll?

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The road ends here.

MLB: Washington Nationals-Workouts Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, Joaquin Benoit never pitched! What gives?

In all seriousness, it’s been a fun ride. The offseason hasn’t really begun — there’s still a ton of baseball left — but welcome to the prelude to the offseason that will define this team for a decade.

Here’s what’s going on in Las Vegas:

Post-2018 Season Payroll Analysis; how much will we have to spend? (Nationals Arm Race)
The Nationals are about to take roughly $95 million off their payroll. Still, they have wiggle room — about $59.5 million of it. This is a numbers deep-dive worth your time if you have it.

Bryce Harper in Nationals' future plans (MLB.com)
Harper keeps saying he's happy to stay if he's in the Nationals' plans — which Mike Rizzo said he very much is.

2019 MLB Draft order set (MLB.com)
The Nats get the 17th pick, which isn’t great, nor is it bad. It’s mediocre, just like this entire season was.

5 questions for Nationals in offseason (MLB.com)
#1: How do they re-sign Joaquin Benoit? (Just kidding, they’re mainly about Harper.)

As Bryce Harper and the Nationals enter the offseason, all we know is that we don’t know much (WaPo)
Harper took off the Nationals uniform for the last time yesterday. Or maybe he didn't. And maybe he and the team both want to stay together. Or maybe they're just trying to make the split amicable. (Also, Victor Robles asked him to sign a baseball, which is the cutest thing maybe of all time.)

Harper will meet with ownership in Las Vegas (MASN)
Though a third source said nothing has been scheduled yet, two sources said to MASN's Mark Zuckerman that Harper will meet with ownership and Scott Boras in Las Vegas before Bryce officially becomes a free agent.

Juan Soto says he is going to join MLB stars on tour of Japan (WaPo)
Juan Soto has never played a season this long, but he felt like it was going pretty well, so he's going to go tour Japan with some other MLB stars. He doesn't like sushi, though, so this could be interesting.

Where is MASN analyst Ray Knight? (WaPo)
"A scan of police logs in the area does not reveal any recent arrests. A person familiar with MASN’s inner workings said the network is holding Knight off broadcasts due to an in-house issue."

Rizzo says he expects Martinez and full staff to return (MASN)
Mike Rizzo doesn't have the final say necessarily, but he made it sound like Davey Martinez will be back next year.

Rizzo: Nationals want Bryce Harper back but leaves wiggle room (WaPo)
“Of course he’s in our plans. He’s a guy we would love to have. He’s a part of our family. He’s a big part of this roster performance-wise,” Mike Rizzo said. “Like I’ve always said, with these type of deals, you’re not betting on the baseball player; you’re betting on the person. He’s a person we’d like to have with us.”