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Wire Taps: Everyone likes Nationals and Dallas Keuchel as a match; Bryce Harper 2018 defensive stats “explained” + more...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you patiently wait for the Hot Stove to heat up...

Japan v MLB All Stars - Game 6 Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

We’re starting to think Bryce Harper took grounders at first base this season just so Scott Boras could talk about it when Harper hit free agency. A lot of folks out there think that it makes sense for Dallas Keuchel to end up in the nation’s capital. Going back to Harper’s 2018 campaign, Scott Boras would like to explain why the defensive numbers looked like they did. Going back to Harper will be a thing for the Nationals until he signs. So just get used to it...

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

2018-2019 MLB Free Agents and Trade Rumors - (MLB.com)
"The Phillies are viewed as the odds-on favorite to sign at least one (and possibly both) of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. They have the funds. They have the need."

5 teams who could be fits for Dallas Keuchel - (MLB.com)
"Both MLB Trade Rumors and a panel of MLB Network Radio experts picked Washington as Keuchel's most likely landing spot, and it's easy to see why."

Here’s one recipe the Red Sox could use to repeat as World Series champions - (Boston Globe)
"The Marlins have experienced the same problem with Realmuto as they did with NL MVP Christian Yelich a year ago; suitors tend to take their best two or three prospects off the table."

Yankees Justus Sheffield tops LHP prospects we’re excited for in 2019 - (Minor League Ball)
"Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics - While the A’s will be in no rush with their young lefty star, he may force his way into some late season starts if he continues to progress as he has the past couple of seasons."

Juan Soto caps off season with impressive series in Japan - (MASN)
"Soto homered in each of his first two games, each one an opposite-field shot. Then, in his third game, he hit a ball off the roof at the Tokyo Dome."

BRYCE HARPER BEAT:

Rosenthal: Digging into Harper’s defensive slide; Keuchel is more reliable than dominant; Syndergaard to Padres? – (The Athletic)
"Not​ surprisingly, agent Scott Boras​ has an​ explanation​ for​ the sharp decline​ in​ Bryce Harper’s​ defensive​ metrics​ during​ the​​ 2018 season."

Free Agency 2018: Harper and Machado and, Oh Yeah, Everyone Else - (The New York Times)
"In time, though, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado should command two of the richest contracts in major league history."

Cubs reportedly in on Bryce Harper free agency negotiations - (Larry Brown Sports)
"Bryce Harper free agency negotiations are underway according to a report, and the Chicago Cubs are among the teams involved."

Phillies should avoid spending big on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado - (New York Post)
"Put Harper on the Phillies, is that a title contender? Heck, put both Harper and Machado on the Phillies and I don’t think that is a championship contender..."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Chris Young is new Phillies pitching coach - (MLB.com)
"The strength of the Phillies' pitching staff is perhaps the No. 1 reason the team found itself in first place in the National League East in August and made a 14-game improvement in the standings from 2017."

Josh Lewin is leaving the Mets' radio team after its move to CBS - (NY Post)
"Mets radio will have a new sound beginning next year."

Marlins players, executives launch rebrand with Miami community visits - (Fish Stripes)
"This Friday, various members of the Marlins organization were all over South Florida showing off the fresh look and meeting with fans, local businesses and first responders."

Braves prospect injured during home run trot after championship-winning hit - (Sporting News)
"Braves prospect Braxton Davidson went from celebration to confusion and pain in a matter of seconds Saturday."