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Wire Taps: Bryce Harper on defense; What does Kurt Suzuki signing mean?; MAT’s future with Nationals...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before something happens to distract you from the winter weather...

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Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Oddly, the Nats have made the two biggest moves of the offseason thus far that weren’t re-signings. This, of course, lends itself to the logical conclusion that the Nats will sign Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, and trade for Zack Greinke just for fun.

Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:

The Yankees have so much money, they are thinking about paying Bryce Harper to not play outfield (NBC Sports Washington)
They aren't paying to take him off the market as much as they would be paying him to fill a hole at first they just can't seem to fill.

The Problem With Bryce Harper’s Defense (The Ringer)
Bryce Harper is really, really good, and he may even get better — at least on offense. But his outcomes are highly varied, because his offense ranges from better-than-decent to earth-shakingly incredible. But the real culprit comes in the form of his lackluster defense, which the stats have been calling mediocre for years — and last year's' visuals made the problem more apparent than ever, even with his phenomenal (and perhaps too good for his own good) throwing arm. Then again, he may have just eased off the gas a bit.

Bryce Harper to Rockies? Coors Field would be a good fit (USA Today)
"Imagine the Rockies rolling out Harper, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Ryan McMahon from the left side... And imagine, perhaps for 2019 only, Nolan Arenado bunched in with that group, too... they can take their most meaningful crack at a World Series championship ever in 2019."

James Paxton just start of Yankees' upgrades (
"The Yankees have had internal discussions since the offseason began about the possibility of signing Harper to play first base, but one source described that scenario as ‘unrealistic’ -- at least, for now."

Bryce Harper's defense a free-agent question (
Harper didn't receive too many difficult opportunities, but when he did, he had some trouble with them — which may have originated from poor reads or an inability to convert. Then again, he may have just been taking it easy in a contract year, but it shows signs for improvement in the future.

Is Kurt Suzuki really the ‘front-line’ catcher the Nationals were seeking? He might be. (WaPo)
"The past two seasons, Nationals catchers have tied with Boston for the worst offensive production in MLB with a hideous weighted runs-created-plus of 60. Suzuki has been at 116, just behind Buster Posey and Wilson Ramos, and tied with J.T. Realmuto for third... the Nats are apparently rolling the dice that analytics have identified an underappreciated catcher, but that they'll be wrong in predicting that his breed, an aging catcher, will fall apart." (Also, J.T. Realmuto details!)

With Kurt Suzuki aboard, Nationals can be patient in addressing catcher needs (WaPo)
The Nationals may still need help behind the plate, because Suzuki is a 120-game starter at most, but most likely won't make it that far. They could invest in a cheap tandem with Jonathan Lucroy, or even wait for the Marlins to come to them if they get desperate about moving J.T. Realmuto.

Suzuki: Rizzo "really aggressive" in pursuit of veteran backstop (MASN)
“‘Speaking to my agent and speaking to Riz, he was really aggressive from the beginning of free agency, and I kind of took to that,’ Suzuki said via conference call Tuesday. ‘He told my agent from Day One I’m their guy, whether I catch 120 games or 90 games or whatever they want me to do. I told them, ‘I’ll be ready to do whatever you want.’

At a career crossroads, does [Michael A.] Taylor have a future with Nats? (MASN)
"Even without Harper, there’s no route to significant playing time for Taylor - not if the Nats formulate their starting outfield with [Juan] Soto in left, Victor Robles in center and [Adam] Eaton in right. Sure, Taylor can back up all three spots. With Robles unproven, it behooves the Nats to have a legit center fielder in reserve; considering Eaton’s injury history, they need to be ready to slot someone into right field should the veteran hit the disabled list."

Nationals sign Kurt Suzuki to a two-year deal (BtBS)
"It’s possible the Nationals tried to go after [Yasmani] Grandal or [Wilson] Ramos but couldn’t convince either to come to Washington. They could have done worse than Suzuki, and it’s good to see that he won’t have to wait until Spring Training to find a job. But for a team that’s coming off a disappointing season and losing their franchise player, it’s an underwhelming start to the offseason."

Kurt Suzuki - Past and Future Nat (Nationals Baseball — Sweetspot)
The Nats made a move that seemed like it cleared up their offseason plans, but it really muddled them further. Is Suzuki a backup or a frontline player? Are they planning on dropping more money on the position, or was this just a way to save it for Harper? Who will back him up (Raudy Read?), if he even has a backup?