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Wire Taps: Nationals’ fifth starter battle; Stephen Strasburg ready for 2019; Aaron Barrett is everyone’s favorite Spring story...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while we wait to see if today is the day Bryce Harper finds a home...

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After months of desperately searching for stories to share in our daily link post, the first few days of Spring Training are a content bonanza. Will Stephen Strasburg get his velo back in 2019? Will we see Aaron Barrett back in the majors at some point? Will Jeremy Hellickson be the fifth starter? Also, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell savages Bryce Harper in the first link included below... which could be awkward if Harper somehow ends up back in D.C., or is it a final sign that No. 34 is not coming back? Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Boswell on Harper:

How can the Nats be better without Bryce Harper? It’s fundamental, really. - (WaPost)
"When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a ground ball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24."

Hellickson Stories:

Jeremy Hellickson likely Nats' 5th starter - (MLB.com)
"The job appears to be Hellickson's at the start of camp, although the Nationals will give the rest of the pitchers on the roster a chance to win it from him."

Jeremy Hellickson had to wait all offseason to end up right where he wanted to be - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed like Jeremy Hellickson might not have the job he wanted in baseball this season."

Competition or not, Jeremy Hellickson sees himself as Nationals’ fifth starter - (WaPost)
"If the Washington Nationals really are holding a spring training competition to find their fifth starter, that’s not exactly what Jeremy Hellickson signed up for."

Strasburg Stories:

Why Stephen Strasburg continues to tinker in hunt for more - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Two things were different for Strasburg last year: his velocity dropped and he spent much of his offseason time in Washington."

Stephen Strasburg’s first spring bullpen session inspires confidence - (WaPost)
"Strasburg spent the offseason in Washington adding muscle to increase his durability, knowing that good health has always seamlessly translated to strong results."

Comeback Story of the Spring:

Aaron Barrett reaches another milestone in his comeback attempt - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Aaron Barrett is an easy player to root for, and if he can complete his impressive comeback, Nats fans will get to do just that this summer."

Barrett takes first step toward completing three-year journey back - (MASN)
"Despite making through the majority of the Tommy John rehab process with no issues, Barrett suffered an even worse calamity near the end of the process."

Other Nats Stories:

Martinez’s plan for catchers and No. 5 starters - (MASN)
”Now it’s up to Martinez to figure out how to use his two catchers. The skipper’s plan: Play them both.”

Plenty of former Nationals still looking for work - (MASN)
"Several key members of the 2018 Nats are still looking for jobs, even as pitchers and catchers have reported across Florida and Arizona and position players are about to join them."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

2019 ZiPS Projections – Washington Nationals - (Fangraphs)
"Even more surprising is the degree to which ZiPS has fallen in love with Juan Soto, leaving Bryce Harper as merely the second-ranked player on the Nationals’ list."

Why Are the Nationals Different? Here Are 140 Million Reasons - (The New York Times)
"In an off-season of inertia for many teams, the Nationals have sprinted to spring training."

Bryce Harper To Astros Was So Close To Happening At 2018 MLB Trade Deadline - (NESN.com)
"Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow casually revealed Thursday that his club had an agreement in place to acquire Bryce Harper from the Washington Nationals prior to the 2018 MLB trade deadline."