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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals’ pitchers & catchers report; Fans in stands in 2021? + more Nats links...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait for the start of the first live BP sessions of the Spring.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Will Carter Kieboom reward the faith the Nationals continue to show in him? Was Andrew Stevenson’s late-run last year for real, or some September-ish magic to be taken with the old grain of salt? Will Stephen Strasburg be 100% from the get-go and back to 2019 form this year? When will that Max Scherzer extension be announced? Don’t worry, you did not miss out on a report on extension talks or anything, we’re just assuming. Pitchers and the catchers are reporting to West Palm Beach, FL today. Take a minute to enjoy that, then it’s back to waiting for real baseball to return a few weeks from now. Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Nationals have the firepower for a quick turnaround in NL East - (NBC Sports Washington)
"A year after winning the World Series, the Nationals suffered through a championship hangover, got off to a slow start and dealt with injury and subpar performance in their vaunted starting pitching staff in 2020."

Spring training storylines: Strasburg's return from injury - (MASN)
"Maybe it’s too simplistic to attribute the team’s final success each of the last two seasons entirely to Strasburg’s health and performance, but there’s certainly some correlation there."

Nationals Fan Poll — Presidents’ Day Edition: What is your favorite Racing Presidents race? - (Curly W Live)
"After Ryan Zimmerman announced his return to the Nationals with a one-year contract for the 2021 season, we asked for your favorite Mr. National moment."

Dr. Anthony Fauci hopes fans can attend MLB games this summer - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed optimism regarding the potential for fans to attend baseball games during the 2021 season in an interview with NBC4 on Monday."

Here's what to expect ahead of the Nationals' spring training in Florida this week - (WJLA)
"To try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Nats will only face the four clubs that train within a 45-minute drive of their complex."

MLB's top free agents still earned big deals despite slow offseason - (Washington Times)
"Even amid the unknown the coming weeks and months will bring, one constant remained: MLB's biggest free agent names still got paid -- and paid well."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Keith Law on Washington Nationals' top 20 prospects – (The Athletic)
"Although I ranked the Nats’ system last among all 30 teams, it’s not as bad a system as that might imply — certainly not on par with the worst systems I’ve seen since I started ranking systems."

MLB hot stove: Why more than half of the league could be positioned to spend big next offseason - (CBSSports.com)
"The Nats right now have only $124 million or so in estimated payroll for 2022, as they'll shed nearly $60 million from 2021."

Lindor tops 50 most interesting people in MLB for 2021 - (NY Post)
"11. Juan Soto - The best hitter in the majors was born four days after the Yankees completed their World Series sweep of the Padres in 1998."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Young Marlins, with a full season of Sixto Sanchez, look to build on playoff run, historic winter - (NBC Sports Washington)
"The Marlins began the 2020 season with a COVID outbreak and ended it with their first playoff berth since 2004."

New-look bullpen, center-field battle top Phillies spring-training story lines - The Morning Call
The Phillies have addressed their needs in the offseason but some questions remain if they've done enough.

James McCann on joining Mets - (MLB.com)
"Mets catcher James McCann discusses the competition in the NL East and playing with his new teammates."

Leadoff: Five veterans who'll battle for jobs in Braves spring training - (AJC.com)
"It’s a spring-training tradition: veteran players trying to extend their big-league careers by winning a job."