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SI awards ballot prevalent with Nats

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SI awards ballot prevalent with Nats

Sports Illustrated baseball columnist Tom Verducci - who by the way was in attendance at Monday nights division-clinching Nats game released his MLB awards predictions on Tuesday and the ballot is all over the Nationals. Verducci has the Nats nearly sweeping the National League awards with Mike Rizzo taking home N.L. Executive of the Year, Davey Johnson getting best manager, and Bryce Harper winning N.L. Rookie of the Year.

Realistically, all three are probably the favorites in their respective categories. Rizzo and Johnson deserve credit for building the team and their sudden leap to contender status. And Harper has continued a late-season surge that has him making history as a teenage position player.

Verducci does, however, present two rather bold predictions involving the Nats. For one, he not only doesnt have Gio Gonzalez winning the Cy Young award, he has him placing fourth in voting. Gonzalez isnt the favorite to win the honor with R.A. Dickey simply being better in a few categories, but he isnt expected to finish lower than third. Many think the Nats lefty will come in either first or second with first being an outside shot.

Verducci also has Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel out of the top five which has almost no chance of happening. Kimbrel has had a historic year for a closer, but Verducci claims that voting a relief pitcher in is like valuing placekickers above quarterbacks.

His second surprise involving the Nationals is the prediction that Adam LaRoche will finish as high as fifth in N.L. MVP voting. LaRoche has been the Nationals most consistent hitter all season, but hasnt reached the level of a Buster Posey or Andrew McCutchen. Just placing fifth would be a high honor to receive for the nine-year veteran. LaRoche has never received MVP votes, but should get at least a few after the best season of his career.It is also possible a few other Nationals could show up in MVP votes. Ryan Zimmerman isnt far behind LaRoche in several key categories and Ian Desmond has put together one of the best 2012 seasons for a shortstop.

Check out Verduccis full ballot right here.

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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