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Wire Taps: Can the Nationals afford to lose Anthony Rendon?; Fresno poses problem for Washington; Juan Soto reflects on rookie year

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of the series finale with the Giants (at 3:45 PM today)...

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Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Every time the Washington Nationals are in San Francisco, something odd happens. They’ve lost playoff games on wild pitches, turned triple plays, and gotten into brawls there — so if a two-base error on a pickoff move is the weirdest thing that happens this series, we’ll take it (knock on wood).

Here’s the beat from the Bay:

Anthony Rendon looks likely to hit free agency, can Nationals afford to let him walk? (The Athletic)
Rendon, seven weeks away from free agency, will dominate the market. Mike Rizzo says that the Nationals are trying to give him numbers in line with the market, and Anthony Rendon hasn't closed the book on a deal, but he knows what he could get if he makes it to free agency (though there *is* a number, and it's probably close to Nolan Arenado's number — and Arenado thinks Rendon may even do some things better than he does). This is also a very different situation than the Harper free-agency dilemma: almost everyone in Nationals Park wants Rendon in a Nats uniform for the rest of his career, and there's little to replace him if he walks.

The Nationals’ Juan Soto looks back on his first days in the majors (WaPo)
Soto, to prepare for his first at-bat in the bigs, chewed a bunch of bubble gum. Then he accurately anticipated the pitch he was going to get in his first at-bat starting, which he turned into an opposite-field homer. Also, he refused to buy anything but an air mattress in Double-A because he didn't think he would be there all that long.

Nationals’ AAA affiliate is in Fresno, and it's a problem (WaPo)
Mike Rizzo slowly came to the conclusion everyone else reached the moment the Nats announced they would put their Triple-A team in Fresno: despite the quality of the organization, flying spot starters cross country the night before their start isn't a winning strategy. Needless to say, the Lerners will be more aggressive next time around finding an affiliate. (That, or MLB can expand to Vancouver and Montreal, meaning that two new minor league teams will need to be established to make the numbers game work.)

‘Brown Eye,’ ‘Southern Thunder,' ‘El Yolo’: Nats’ Players’ Weekend nicknames are here (WaPo)
MLB is going jet black and optic white for its Players' Weekend uniforms to let colorful gear stand out (the home team decides which color to wear). Max Scherzer didn't use "black eye" for his nickname, which is a travesty, as is the fact that Gerardo Parra's nickname has nothing to do with sharks. The players also get to use their phones up until before the national anthem and can honor Tyler Skaggs with a patch on their uniform. Also, Sean Doolittle is "Obi-Sean," and Trea Turner somehow got an exponent on his jersey?

2019 MLB Players' Weekend nicknames (MLB.com)
The full list, just in case you wanted it.

Cy Young Poll: Verlander leads, Ryu takes over (MLB.com)
Max Scherzer, unlike Hyun-Jin Ryu, has no clear timetable for a return and hasn't really pitched since the beginning of July, so it makes sense that he's fallen back to an extent. (Also, someone voted for Stephen Strasburg?)

Nats get a battery-powered win as Kurt Suzuki, Aníbal Sánchez are too much for Giants (WaPo)
Suzuki delivered the defining blow, and Sánchez was able to limit the Giants to two runs over six innings as only Hunter Strickland allowed concentrated damage in a good win for the squad.

Nats add Cabrera to roster, drop Barraclough (MASN)
Players who are the still Nationals since Asdrubal Cabrera took off his Nats uniform for the last time at AT&T Park in San Francisco, circa 2014: Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon. Five years later, he'll put it on once more.

Erick Fedde does more than enough to help the Nationals beat the Giants (WaPo)
Erick Fedde could be considered the root of a problem: the Nats' serious lack of starting pitching options past Aníbal Sánchez's spot. On Monday night, though, he pitched like he could be the solution to that problem.

Asdrúbal Cabrera returns to Washington, ready to try his well-traveled glove at first base (WaPo)
Asdrúbal Cabrera has done and seen it all when it comes to the Nats: he's played for them, against them, been ejected in a Spring Training game with them — but he's never once played first base, which is what the Nats want him to do.

Nationals bring back Cabrera, add infield depth (ESPN/AP)
By designating Kyle Barraclough for assignment, the Nats admitted failure in their offseason endeavor to remake the bullpen as the last major addition departed.