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Wire Taps: Max Scherzer talks free agency; Nationals’ bullpen blows another start; Craig Kimbrel open to smaller deal

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news and enjoy your off day...

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Good morning.

Instead of writing a normal intro to Wire Taps, today’s article will feature the Mad-Libs style intro that will begin every Wire Taps for the rest of the season (or until the Nats sign Craig Kimbrel).

Well, that felt predictable. Unsurprisingly, [INSERT NATS STARTER] was phenomenal, and the offense got it done mainly thanks to [ANTHONY RENDON/JUAN SOTO/ADAM EATON/VICTOR ROBLES/SOMEONE ELSE].

But who would’ve thought of this, the bullpen came in and blew the lead! Today, it was [INSERT ANY RELIEVER BUT SEAN DOOLITTLE HERE] who came up short in the [7th/8th/9th/10th], throwing their [3rd/4th/5th]-worst pitch for a [BALL/HOMER/DOUBLE] to lose the game. Maybe they’ll sign Kimbrel today.

Anyhow, here’s the scoop from South Capitol:

Max Scherzer on free agent lies, prioritizing draft picks and “what has to happen” in baseball next (The Athletic)
Free agency has become a fight to tear players down to their lowest values. So Max Scherzer respects any player willing to take that route, Bryce Harper included — but he also sees a problem when players are no longer willing to test the market for fear of being locked out of the league.

Howie Kendrick’s hot bat earns him another start in series finale against Pirates (WaPo)
“[Kendrick] hits a game-winner yesterday, so come out today and let him get some more at-bats,” Martinez said Sunday morning. “Like I said, the biggest thing with him is keeping him healthy, and knowing we have a day off tomorrow, too, kind of helps.”

Scherzer, Suero come up a bit short in 4-3 loss to Pirates (MASN)
The Nats battled back a number of times after a few errors and untimely mistakes. But the least timely of all—a leadoff walk and a hanging curveball—proved insurmountable.

After Max Scherzer finds his footing, Wander Suero slips in Nationals’ 4-3 loss to Pirates (WaPo)
"Suero had a runner at second base with two outs, and he needed to escape. He threw his cutter three straight times to the Pirates’ Jason Martin. Then, ahead in the count 1-2, he tried a curveball.

“I thought he would throw him another cutter or a change-up,” Martinez said later. “His curveball is his fourth-best pitch, so . . .”"

Martinez stays with hot hand in Kendrick, Scherzer good to go (MASN)
Scherzer said he felt "really good" heading into Sunday despite his leg injury (though his velocity was down a touch), Juan Soto can't stop striking out, and Anthony Rendon can't stop hitting.

Nationals drop series to Pirates (MLB.com)
In a shocking turn of events, a Nationals’ starter pitched a gem of a game, allowing just three runs over eight innings, before a bullpen member—this time Wander Suero—faltered following immediately after. Suero blames his location on the last pitch, for what it's worth, though Davey Martinez called the curveball Suero's "fourth-best pitch."

Free agent All-Stars may be more amenable to smaller deals (Yahoo!)
The Nationals should want Craig Kimbrel, and he's now asking for an annual average value of $20m a year. The only issue: they're afraid of an essentially-invisible luxury tax line.

Top prospect performers for April 14 (MLB.com)
It's Malvin Pena, of course! (Who?)

Sunday’s News & Notes (NationalsProspects)
Fresno cannot seem to beat Vegas, and aside from Harrisburg, everyone else lost on Sunday as well. But hey, Jacob Condra-Bogan may be able to contribute this year?