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Market for LaRoche is thinning

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Market for LaRoche is thinning

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The number of teams interested in Adam LaRoche dropped by one this morning when the Red Sox signed Mike Napoli, but the Nationals still face some competition for the veteran first baseman.

The Red Sox were thought all along as one of the likeliest destinations for LaRoche if he didn't return to Washington. But Boston this morning inked Napoli to a three-year, $39 million contract and no longer has a need for LaRoche.

That thins the ranks of clubs in the mix for the 33-year-old and certainly puts the Nationals in a more advantageous position, though it doesn't guarantee his return.

The Nats' chief competition at this point could be the Rangers, who now need to fill the void created by Napoli's departure. Texas does have 27-year-old Mitch Moreland at the position but could feel pressure to upgrade offensively, especially if center fielder Josh Hamilton (also a free agent) winds up elsewhere.

Other teams who have been linked to LaRoche include the Orioles and Mariners, though Baltimore doesn't appear willing to offer the three-year deal LaRoche seeks and Seattle can't offer the same opportunity to contend for a World Series right now that the Nationals and Rangers can claim.

To date, the Nationals haven't budged from their two-year offer. General manager Mike Rizzo met with LaRoche in person over the weekend at manager Davey Johnson's charity golf event in Orlando and explained the club's position, wanting to maintain some roster flexibility after 2014.

The Napoli signing in Boston gives the Nationals some added leverage in dealing with LaRoche. So does the fact they already have Michael Morse available to play first base if they don't re-sign LaRoche.

Morse would need to be traded if LaRoche returns.

"It's kind of up in the air who's going to be at first," LaRoche said over the weekend at the golf event. "It's between me and Mikey. Mike's obviously a great friend of mine. However it works out, it does."

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Nats RHP Barrett suffers major setback in recovery from Tommy John

Nats RHP Barrett suffers major setback in recovery from Tommy John

Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett has suffered a significant setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

While rehabbing in Viera, Fla. on Friday, Barrett broke his right elbow. He will now see Dr. James Andrews on Monday to have his elbow fracture repaired and his ulnar collateral ligament examined.

Barrett had his UCL repaired last September by Andrews. He is eight months into the recovery, which generally takes 12 to 18 months. Barrett had at one point expressed hope of returning to the Nationals bullpen this September, but that is now in question.

Barrett also had bone chips removed from his elbow in September. And this past winter he had bone chips removed from his ankle. It has been a tough year for the right-hander, who broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2014.

Barrett, 28, has pitched in 90 total games for the Nationals. He posted a 2.66 ERA in 50 games in 2014. In 2015, Barrett held a 4.60 ERA through 40 outings.

The Nationals announced Barrett's elbow fracture on Sunday afternoon.

[RELATED: Nats' Ryan Zimmerman: 'I think I'm good to go']

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Drew Storen designated for assignment by Toronto

Drew Storen designated for assignment by Toronto

Former Washington Nationals pitcher Drew Storen has been designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays, thus likely ending his brief tenure with the team.

Storen was traded to Toronto by the Nationals in excahnge for outfielder Ben Revere in January. He has struggled this season with a 6.21 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched.

The right-handed reliever was a reliable pitcher for Washington, but his career with the Nationals was marred by the ninth inning collapse against the St. Loius Cardinals in the 2012 playoffs. Handed a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Storen came within one strike of the win. Instead, he blew the save giving up four runs.

Storen eventually recovered, but Mike Rizzo's faith in him never did. In 2015, the Nationals traded for Jonathan Papelbon despite a strong season by Storen as closer.

Now perhaps the same thing could be playing out this year for Papelbon as the Nationals target New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

RELATED: How Dusty's holy water helped Revere vs. Padres

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Zimmerman after minor league rehab games: 'I think I'm good to go'

Zimmerman after minor league rehab games: 'I think I'm good to go'

Having landed five hits already in three minor league rehab games, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is on track to return to the Nationals on Tuesday when they hit the road to play at the Cleveland Indians.

The 12-year MLB veteran believes that by Tuesday he'll not only be ready to return, but to play every day.

"I think I'm good to go," Zimmerman said. "I feel good. I didn't take that much time off, but it was good to get down there and get some at-bats. I'll be ready to come help this team out in the second half."

Zimmerman, who is recovering from a left rib cage strain, played Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the Single-A Potomac Nationals. He went 5-for-12 with a home run, five RBI, a double and four runs scored.

The Nats wanted the 31-year-old to play three games and he came out of them feeling no complications from his injury.

"Everything feels good," Zimmerman said. "When I come back, I will be ready to go."

Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since July 7. He sustained the injury the day before during an at-bat against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Zimmerman is hitting .221/.284/.402 with 12 homers and 38 RBI in 74 games this season.

[RELATED: How Dusty's holy water helped Revere vs. Padres]

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