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Wire Taps: Should Stephen Strasburg test free agency?; Mike Rizzo and “challenges at home”; Did the Nats really improve their bullpen?

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of this weekend’s series with the Diamondbacks...

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Before the rest of the year starts, two interesting/important tweets that got left out of yesterday’s Wire Taps:

Here’s what’s coming up at Chase Field:

Stephen Strasburg Should Toss Aside $100M Contract After Dominant 2019 (B/R)
Stephen Strasburg has $100 million guaranteed over the next four seasons. Alternatively, he can test free agency after his best season in a long time and enter a depleted free agent market for pitchers, attracting attention from big-market teams.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo faced challenges at home and abroad at trade deadline (WaPo)
You can be angry that the Nats weren't able to add big names. Or you can recognize that Mike Rizzo had to do his best while working with the Lerners, who hound the baseball ops team and once harangued the staff about minor league stopwatches and the merits of shipping FedEx vs USPS. (Then again, not being willing to add another $5 million after committing more than $500 million to three pitchers isn't the best look, either.)

Sánchez's new strategy against Braves backfires (MASN)
Aníbal Sánchez, who's faced a Braves team for which he pitched last season four times already, wanted to mix things up on Wednesday afternoon, but his strategy — pitching outside — led to jam shots that drove in enough runs to ultimately secure a win for the Braves.

Nats have more late-inning options after trades (
“Even though we've had to cover, I think, the fewest innings as a group, as a bullpen,” closer Sean Doolittle said as his arm fell off his body, “there's still some of us that could use some reinforcements.”

Where do the new relievers fit in the Nationals bullpen and clubhouse? (NBCSW)
Sean Doolittle will continue closing games. Daniel Hudson will likely get the middle of games. Roenis Elías and Hunter Strickland can fit in just about anywhere, but Strickland could well get the eighth if he doesn't punch another thing or totally disrupt clubhouse chemistry.

For Nationals bullpen, trades should help keep relievers fresh (WaPo)
The best news is for Wander Suero, Fernando Rodney, and Sean Doolittle, who won't have to work double duty as often as they had to start the year. Instead, Davey Martinez can try his hand at building a bridge using Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elías and Hunter Strickland, or any combination of new and old guys who he trusts on a given night. At least for now, it looks like he'll get some flexibility.

Nats’ trade for Hunter Strickland sets the table for spicy showdowns with Bryce Harper (WaPo)
Harper vs Strickland in September, and then 19 times a year for the two years following.

Were the Nationals' deadline moves enough? (MASN)
The Nats are better than they were on Tuesday and Wednesday — that's not debatable. What is debatable is if the new additions are enough to push this team any further or if they'll really be able to present all that much of an improvement, especially compared to the arms the Braves added at the exact same time.

Nationals likely get what they paid for (Washington Times)
"I think we’ve upgraded our bullpen,” Rizzo told reporters. “These aren’t the sexiest names in the trade market, but we think we got good quality, reliable guys with some moxie and some experience.” Moxie. This is like describing a blind date as someone with a great personality."

NL East roundtable: Examining trade deadline moves and the outlook going forward (The Athletic)
It's unclear if the Nats made enough of an upgrade as they approach the stretch run, but it's "clear the Nationals weren't willing to mortgage their future for what could very well be a wild card game."

Bowden: Trade deadline grades for all 30 MLB teams (The Athletic)
The Nats get a B- for participation, mainly.