Believe it or not, Spring Training games start this Saturday. Nationals baseball will air on MASN (where the graphics will, for the tenth straight season, remain identical). Max Scherzer will throw baseballs, and Kurt Suzuki or Yan Gomes will catch them as someone not wearing a curly W attempts to hit them. All will be right in the world for a few moments.
Here’s the news from Nats Park:
Nationals want Trea Turner to attempt more steals in 2019. A lot more. (WaPo)
Trea Turner puts a lot of thought into attempting a steal — but Davey Martinez wants him to put in less thought, and just run 75 or 80 times. See what happens, right?
The Nationals know what they have in Juan Soto, and it might be historic (WaPo)
Players who succeed at the level Juan Soto did during their age-19 season, simply put, don't often go back to being mediocre (aside from Jason Heyward and Bob Horner). That's not to say Soto is a lock to succeed — but he seems confident and yet can avoid the spotlight as well as, say, Anthony Rendon. In the meantime, if he hasn't lost his command of the zone and if Nats fans are willing to afford him the patience they afforded Bryce Harper, Soto will become a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
Anthony Rendon on extension talks: ‘If both parties can be happy, then we’ll see’ (WaPo)
"We talked about it over the last year or so, and if both parties can be happy, then we’ll see,” Rendon said Wednesday after the Nationals’ second full-squad workout of spring training. “If not, then we’ll see what happens. We had more discussions [this winter], but I can’t lay all the cards out on the table for y’all. I got to leave y’all in suspicion.” (Rendon also made it very clear – he drives this process, not Scott Boras.)
MLB free agency: Bryce Harper has rejected multiple offers over $300M (MLB Daily Dish)
"If true, this comes as a bit of a surprise because Harper would supplant Machado as owning the biggest free-agent contract in the history of American sports. But, at the same time, Harper may be thinking about owning the richest deal in baseball history, taking over Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million deal he signed in 2014 while he was with the Marlins."
It Seems Unlikely Scott Boras Has a $300-Million Bid for Bryce Harper (Fangraphs)
Jon Heyman says that Harper has plenty of $300 million deals in hand. But going down the list, it seems hard to believe that the Giants (led by a cost-calculating exec), Padres (who just signed Machado), and Phillies (who wouldn't counter San Diego's offer for Machado) would offer more than $300 million — meaning this could just be Scott Boras turning up the heat on the Phillies.
Manny Machado Signed a $300 Million Deal; Bryce Harper’s Could Be for More. Will They Be Worth It? (NYT)
There have been 72 $100+ million contracts in MLB's history. The Times crunched the numbers, and the key is getting the players when they're 26 or younger (as Harper and Machado are) — but more interesting is the *super cool* scattergram of WAR vs. contract value.
In Bryce Harper chase, Phillies must bridge ‘stupid’ money to ‘willing to walk away’ (WaPo)
The Phillies have the clear inside track on landing Bryce Harper. But they have to navigate a number of hurdles — including not spending stupid money when they don't have to — and they may even have to explain to their fans that they were "willing to walk away" as they were with Manny Machado.
The Phillies need to sign Bryce Harper in order to win on field and among fans (Philadelphia Inquirer)
It doesn't matter how many players and execs say the Phillies are all in; it doesn't matter how many times the Phillies say they're willing to spend stupid money to move the needle. Every Phillies fan–and every Phillies exec—should know that Harper is a marquee talent that would make the franchise more valuable and way more competitive.
The Phillies have some extremely appealing Bryce Harper alternatives (Philly Voice)
Sure, the Phillies could splurge with $310+ million for Harper. Or they could spend that money on Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, wait for Nolan Arenado, and build a team that can win a World Series without Harper.
Manny dollars for Bryce? (Sweetspot: Nationals Baseball)
Ultimately, it now boils down to two questions: Is Bryce coming back, and if not, will he end up in the NL East?