Well, Spring Training began! Now just to fast forward to Opening Day and get on with it, which is a very real thing that we absolutely can do.
(Yep, that’s right, Bryce Harper signed with the insert team here, we knew it all along!)
Here’s what’s fresh from the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches:
Stephen Strasburg looking to stay healthy (MLB.com)
Stephen Strasburg spent the winter in D.C., working in the team's facilities and staying in shape. He's not in the best shape of his life, but he trained much more consistently and apparently feels better than he did last year in a mechanical sense. (Also, Sean Doolittle's foot doesn't hurt!)
Bryce Harper free agency: Nationals players baffled, too (WaPo)
Stephen Strasburg and Adam Eaton—though understanding of the situation—couldn't really understand why Harper hasn't signed. Apparently, being a player this offseason is just like being a fan.
Nationals open camp without Bryce Harper (MLB.com)
"There is a mannequin on display near those doors -- sporting the new home white jerseys for Spring Training -- that Sean Doolittle joked he has mistaken for Harper already. Doolittle even toyed with the idea of dressing the mannequin up as Harper, suggesting perhaps he could join the team in spirit."
Sean Doolittle wants to have a say in who drives the Nats bullpen cart (NBCSW)
As someone who plans to ride the bullpen cart as much as possible, Sean Doolittle (rightfully) thinks that he deserves a hand in picking his future chauffeur.
VIDEO: Adam Eaton is ready for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado to sign with MLB team - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton explained why he is is ready for block-buster free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign with an MLB team."
Projected 2019 lineups rotations all 30 teams - (MLB.com)
"1. Adam Eaton, RF 2. Trea Turner, SS 3. Anthony Rendon, 3B 4. Juan Soto, LF 5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B 6. Brian Dozier, 2B 7. Victor Robles, CF 8. Yan Gomes, C"
Nationals World Series odds improving as Spring Training begins (NBCSW)
The Nats are knotted up with the Mets, Indians, and Braves in terms of their likelihood to have a parade — which is to say the odds are high-ish, but they certainly aren't favorites.
Bryce who? Adam Eaton confident in Nationals roster, with or without Harper (NBCSW)
Eaton was all positivity on the first day of spring, partaking in an age-old tradition: listing players that he thought would have good years.
As spring training opens, the Nationals have built a team, and Bryce Harper isn’t on one (WaPo)
Sure, Ted Lerner and Scott Boras could work out a gentleman's agreement on Harper. But look at these Nationals — a revamped rotation, catching core, and middle infield. This team is here to compete, without Bryce Harper — but it doesn't totally explain why GMs all around baseball have been so unwilling to sign players, which apparently comes down to "agents trying to define the market by sheer will."
After first winter in D.C., Strasburg hopes he's found key to puzzle (MASN)
Apparently, Strasburg was at Nationals Park twice a week this winter, meaning some lucky fans could have gotten to him. Alas — but he thinks that he may have finally, finally, found the right combination.
With one eye on Harper, Eaton focused on healthy 2019 (MASN)
"If Harper ends up signing elsewhere, the solution is simple. Eaton’s the guy in right. If, however, Harper ends his four-month free agency dance by returning to the organization that first drafted and signed him ... well, somebody’s got to be the odd man out. And that somebody almost certainly would be Eaton, whose contract guarantees him $8.4 million this year with club options for both 2020 and 2021."
Gott traded to Giants for cash considerations (MASN)
The team DFA'd Gott after signing Jeremy Hellickson. Gott, the primary piece in the Nats' trade of Yunel Escobar, never quite panned out in Washington.
With J.T. Realmuto in camp, Phillies know their time is now (ESPN)
"Harper, in fact, let it be known publicly that the Nationals were making a mistake when the team didn't trade for the catcher before the 2018 deadline. Now Realmuto is with a fierce division rival, and he returned the favor, saying of Harper: "I would definitely love to have a player like that on this team."
First workout schedule, plus uniform number changes - (MASN)
"Pitchers and catchers reported for duty Wednesday, but all they did was take their physicals and in a few cases play some light catch in the rain just outside the clubhouse."
Sean Doolittle, the Nats' bullpen cart champion, wants to help pick its driver - (WaPost)
"Sean Doolittle has built a loose criteria for the next driver of the Washington Nationals bullpen cart."
Bryce Harper’s free agency continues to hang over life in the clubhouse - (NBC Sports Washington)
"While most watched Harper’s languishing with a general curiosity, Eaton had a distinct angle to focus on: the whole thing could cost him his job in Washington."