Quick Links

Nats make qualifying offer to LaRoche

adamlaroche102312.png

Nats make qualifying offer to LaRoche

The Nationals made a qualifying contract offer to Adam LaRoche before today's 5 p.m. deadline, but not to any of their other free agents, ensuring they would receive at least one draft pick as compensation should they lose the veteran first baseman.

LaRoche was given the one-year, $13.3 million offer all free agents are eligible to be offered under MLB's new compensation system, according to MLB.com and FoxSports.com. The 32-year-old can either accept the offer (which equates to the average salary of the top 125-paid players in the majors this season) and return to the Nationals for 2013 or decline the offer and seek a multi-year contract with any of baseball's 30 clubs.

If LaRoche (who has seven days to make a decision) declines the offer as expected, the Nationals would receive a compensatory draft pick (a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds) should he ultimately sign with another franchise this winter. That franchise would then lose its first-round draft pick (unless it's one of the top 10 picks) under a system installed under the new collective bargaining agreement that eliminated the old method of classifying free agents as "Type A" or "Type B" players to determine compensation.

Essentially, the Nationals are acknowledging they're willing to pay LaRoche $13.3 million for another season of his services. In truth, they're willing to offer him more than a one-year deal, and the two sides could still reach an agreement on a contract potentially in the range of three years and $36 million.

LaRoche, like all free agents, is free to begin negotiating with other clubs Saturday morning. Coming off a season in which he hit a career-high 33 homers while matching his previous high of 100 RBI and winning his first Gold Glove award, he's expected to listen to offers from other teams in the market for a first baseman. The most likely suitors are the Red Sox, Orioles and perhaps Rangers.

In the end, the Nationals will have the ability to match or exceed any of those offers, or try to convince LaRoche to take less money or fewer guaranteed years to return to a club that believes it can contend for a World Series title in 2013 and beyond.

Though they extended the qualifying offer to LaRoche, the Nationals did not do the same with any of their other free agents (Edwin Jackson, Sean Burnett, Mark DeRosa, Michael Gonzalez, Zach Duke). Jackson, who made $11 million this season, was the only member of that group who would be worth anywhere close to $13.3 million.

In electing not to make the offer to Jackson, the Nationals essentially are acknowledging they don't intend to make much of an effort to re-sign the right-hander and are content to seek a No. 5 starter elsewhere.

Quick Links

Gio Gonzalez faces Phillies as Nats look for sweep on road

Gio Gonzalez faces Phillies as Nats look for sweep on road

Nats (77-55) at Phillies (60-72) at Citizens Bank Park

The Nationals saw Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer dominate in the first two games of this week's series in Philly. On Wednesday, they will send Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25) to the mound looking for a sweep.

The Nats have swept the Phillies each of the last two times they've squared off and have won eight straight overall in head-to-head matchups. Gonzalez has seen the Phillies twice this year with just two earned runs allowed in 13 1/3 total innings of work.

Pitching for Philly will be lefty Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50). Morgan has also seen the Nats twice with nine earned runs given up in 12 2/3 innings combined.

Trea Turner has the day off for the Nationals with Michael Taylor starting in center and batting leadoff. Turner is actually just two hits away from tying a franchise record for most hits in a month. Given this is the last day of August, he should fall just short.

Besides the Taylor change, the rest of the Nats' lineup looks just as it did in Tuesday's win.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Phillies - Adam Morgan

NATS

CF Michael Taylor
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
LHP Gio Gonzalez

PHILLIES

TBA
LHP Adam Morgan

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

Quick Links

Stock Watch: Scherzer's dominant week strengthens his NL Cy Young case

Stock Watch: Scherzer's dominant week strengthens his NL Cy Young case

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-3

Team slash: .276/.321/.444

Team ERA: 4.02

Runs per game: 4.9

 

STOCK UP 

Max Scherzer, SP: 2-0, 16 IP, 1.13 ERA, 21 K, BB

Remember when Scherzer was yielding home runs at an alarming rate? It hasn’t been that long since then, but with the way he’s pitching these days, it sure seems like it. Since June, the 32-year-old right hander has recaptured his dominant form, so much so that he’s put himself in the NL Cy Young conversation. And he has a pretty darn good case, too; Scherzer leads the NL in innings pitched (190), strikeouts (238) and WHIP (0.91) while ranking second in wins (15) and eighth in ERA(2.89).

In his performances against the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies over the last week, he’s looked very much like vintage Mad Max: flirting with no-hitters, pumping the fastball in the upper-90s, posting double digit strikeouts and going deep into each game. That’s the guy the Nats gave a $210 million contract to, and it’s a reminder why he’ll be taking the mound in Game 1 of an October series.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: .345 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .987 OPS

Speaking of postseason accolades, what’s Murphy got to do to be considered the NL MVP favorite? In the minds of national pundits, he appears to be trailing Chicago Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant, despite owning an edge in average, RBI and OPS. While Bryant's numbers are impressive, voters may already view him as the best player on baseball’s best team, so it may be difficult to sway them into digging deeper into Murphy's numbers.

It also doesn’t help Murphy that his defense hasn’t been considered above average at his position, while Bryant’s glove is lauded at multiple spots. Add in the mystique of the Cubs, a big market team, and it will be tough for Murphy to outshine Bryant without a monster September. But given what he’s done in his first year in D.C., it’s certainly possible.  

Trea Turner, CF: .455 AVG, 4 SB, 1.000 OPS

The major leagues aren’t supposed to be this easy for rookies. But game after game, the 23-year-old Turner is making “The Show” look like a cakewalk in his first opportunity as an everyday player. As a result, the 23-year-old speedster has quickly turned himself into one of the most dangerous leadoff men in baseball right now.  

Of NL hitters who have at least 175 plate appearances atop the lineup, Turner is leads in average (.343) while ranking third in slugging (.531) and OPS (.889). Additionally, he’s two hits shy of tying Murphy’s club record for hits in a month, not to mention a current 20-game on-base streak, a stretch that includes multi-hit efforts in seven of his last eight games. Not too shabby.

STOCK DOWN

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .042 AVG, 8K, .122 OPS

After posting a few good games following his return from the disabled list, Zimmerman has once again found himself in a bit of a rut. He has one hit in his last 24 at-bats with eight strikeouts to just one walk. While it's tempting to say it's been only one bad week, it’s hard to ignore that Zimmerman's struggles have been season long. His average has dropped to .216, which by far would be a career-low if he finished 2016 anywhere near that mark. He’s traditionally been a streaky hitter, but he’s running out of time to make a big impact.

Quick Links

Scherzer, Turner keep rolling in Nats win, Espinosa heating up?

Scherzer, Turner keep rolling in Nats win, Espinosa heating up?

Notes and observations from the Nats' 3-2 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park…

Scherzer again flirts with a no-no: It's a stat that just keeps getting more amazing the more we watch Max Scherzer go to work as a Washington National. Tuesday night was the ninth time in 61 starts since he signed with the Nats that Scherzer has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning. That's 15 percent of his starts, which - not surprisingly - is more than any other pitcher in baseball. Scherzer is so locked in when he takes the mound that it often takes opposing teams five full innings to figure him out.

Scherzer was perfect through 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday before Cameron Rupp drew a walk in the fifth. And he didn't allow a hit until Freddy Galvis doubled to begin the bottom of the sixth. Scherzer ended up allowing a two-run homer to Ryan Howard, but he made it eight innings and only gave up three hits and that one walk to Rupp. Scherzer struck out 11 batters and now holds a Nationals record for most double-digit strikeout games in one season with 12. 

Scherzer stumbled a bit in consecutive starts in the middle of August when he gave up eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Rockies and Braves. But in two outings since, Scherzer has allowed just two runs across 16 innings with 21 strikeouts and one walk. He now holds a 2.89 ERA across 190 total innings pitched this season. And since his seven-run start at Wrigley on May 6, Scherzer has a 2.39 ERA in 21 starts with a .531 opponents' OPS.

Turner does his thing: It has become a common sight for Trea Turner to not just get on base in every game, but often to record at least two hits. He had two singles on Tuesday to record his 21st multi-hit game of the year in 43 total outings, 41 of them starts. If Turner is in the starting lineup, he is more likely than not to have at least two hits. And with 45 hits in August, he's just two away from the franchise record for hits in one calendar month. The odds he gets there on Wednesday night would seem to be good.

Turner has now reached base in 20 straight games. Only one other Nats rookie - Danny Espinosa - has accomplished that in team history. But it's not just getting on base that makes Turner special, of course. He got another steal in the 3-2 win and now has 18 on the year. That tied Bryce Harper's rookie record for a single season set back in 2012. Again, Turner has played in just 43 games.

Espinosa getting hot?: Don't look now, but Espinosa might be quietly heating up. The Nats shortstop had another solid game on Tuesday with two hits and a walk. He's now batting .355 (11-for-31) in his last nine games with a 1.009 OPS during that stretch. It's a small sample size, of course, but that's a positive sign for a guy who in 45 games since July 6 has hit just .191/.294/.268. This is quite easily the most consistent two-week stretch that he's had in months.

Harper gets on again: It's now 17 games since Harper has been back and he just keeps getting on base. He's reached in all of those outings and on Tuesday landed an RBI double in the first inning and later scored on a Wilson Ramos single. Harper continues to be on a tear since he got back from his neck injury. That was his 18th RBI and his seventh double since his return.

[RELATED: Turner on playing like a little kid, rest helped Ramos]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES