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Would you believe spring training is already 40 percent complete? That’s right, the Nationals have made it through the first 16 days of a 40-day camp. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? (Or when there’s actually baseball being played.)

That’s not to suggest the Nats are anywhere close to being ready for opening night, though. They’ve still got a lot to figure out Washington Nationals Jerseys China over the next 24 days. Truth be told, they’ve barely answered any of the most pressing questions they faced when they arrived in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Is Carter Kieboom ready to start at third base every day? Too soon to say. Is Joe Ross the No. 5 starter? He hasn’t pitched in a game yet. Is Stephen Strasburg back to 100 percent health? Let’s see him actually face another team before drawing any conclusions. Are Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber and Victor Robles going to bounce back from bad 2020 seasons? They look good so far, but it’s too early to say with certainty.

So the upcoming exercise – projecting the opening night roster – may feel a bit premature. But it also feels worth attempting, because there is plenty we do know for sure already.

Here, then, is a look at which 26 men might be in line to come north with the club at the end of the month …

ROTATION (5): Max Scherzer, Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, Ross
Though this is still the safest projection of the opening night rotation, those two last two spots are hardly guaranteed at the moment. Lester figured to be a lock all along, but that was before he reported fatigue and subsequent tests determined he needed to have his thyroid gland removed. That surgery took place Friday in New York. We’ll hopefully know more about his prognosis today, and hopefully everything is fine. That said, it wouldn’t be a shock if Lester (even if healthy) needs a little extra time to be ready to begin the season. Ross, meanwhile, remains the frontrunner for the No. 5 job, but he needs to actually pitch and prove he deserves it. He’ll get his first chance Monday against the Mets. As always, Erick Fedde and Austin Voth are waiting in the wings if they’re needed, though neither has pitched particularly well so far this spring.

Thumbnail image for Suero-in-Rain-Red-sidebar.jpgBULLPEN (8): Brad Hand, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Will Harris, Jeremy Jeffress, Wander Suero, Kyle Finnegan, Voth or Fedde
Though this is the most likely octet to open the season in the Nationals bullpen, not everyone in the group is safe. Rainey is currently dealing with a slight muscle strain near his right collarbone, so that could set him back a little bit. Jeffress, who signed a minor league deal after camp opened, is still building his arm up to pitch in a game. Finnegan has pitched in two games and has given up a home run in each. He’s got options, so he’s not a lock to make the team. We’ve been assuming all along the runner-up for the fifth starter’s job will remain as a long reliever, but it doesn’t necessarily have to work out that way. The Nats could decide they’d rather keep a more experienced and versatile reliever like Javy Guerra or Ryne Harper; a second lefty like Sam Clay, Luis Avilán or T.J. McFarland; or a young right-hander who has a good spring like Kyle McGowin or Dakota Bacus.

CATCHERS (2): Yan Gomes, Alex Avila
Something unexpected would need to happen for these two not to head north as the club’s catching duo. Both veterans are healthy. Both are working with all of the pitchers in the mix for jobs. But if something did happen, Welington Castillo or perhaps Blake Swihart is ready to step in. And younger catchers Tres Barrera and Raudy Read also could be called upon in a pinch.

INFIELDERS (6): Bell, Starlin Castro, Trea Turner, Kieboom, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Harrison
All six of these guys are making the team if healthy. That includes Kieboom, if for no other reason than the fact there is no other realistically viable everyday third baseman in camp. Bell and Zimmerman have looked especially good at the plate so far, going a combined 7-for-10 with three doubles, three homers, six RBIs, three walks and only one strikeout. Harrison can play just about anywhere, including the corner outfield spots.

OUTFIELDERS (4): Juan Soto, Robles, Schwarber, Andrew Stevenson
It’s been an encouraging start to the spring for Robles, who has slimmed down, looks better in the field and looks pretty good as a leadoff hitter. Schwarber is looking more comfortable in his new (actually old) batting stance. Soto doesn’t need to worry about anything other than staying healthy. Stevenson has taken a team-high 12 plate appearances, and though he has only one hit, he’s all but penciled in as the fourth outfielder.

If you’ve added all that up, you realize only 25 players are listed so far. There’s one more spot that needs to be filled, and this is where it gets tricky.

The Nationals could decide to use it on another bench player, but would that be another infielder like Jordy Mercer or Adrián Sanchez; another outfielder like Gerardo Parra, Yadiel Hernández or Yasmany Tomás; or a utility man who can play anywhere like Hernán Pérez?

Or they could decide to keep a ninth reliever, which brings anyone from the aforementioned group of Guerra, Harper, Clay, Avilan, McFarland, McGowin and Bacus back into play.

That’s probably the last decision they’ll have to make at the end of camp. Hopefully by then, the situation will have sorted itself out and someone will have become the obvious choice.

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The pitching schedule was overcrowded. These cuts came right as the club is getting its starters and relievers in game shape. Here’s how they broke down by position:

Pitchers (in alphabetical order) — Joan Adon, Bryan Bonnell, Tim Cate, Cade Cavalli, Jacob Condra-Bogan, Matt Cronin, Tyler Dyson, Tyler Eppler, Cole Henry, Gabe Klobotsis, Jefry Rodríguez, Jackson Rutledge

Catchers — Israel Pineda, Jakson Reetz, Raudy Read

Infielders — Jackson Cluff, Drew Mendoza, Jake Noll

Outfielders — Cody Wilson

Since Adon, Antuna and Noll are on the 40-man roster, they were officially assigned to the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings. The rest Stitched Washington Nationals Jerseys were moved to the “minor league side of camp,” as the Nationals put it, even though that barely exists.

Cutting Noll is significant because he could have been considered for the final bench spot to start the year. Instead, after he struggled at the plate this spring, the options look like Jordy Mercer, Hernán Pérez, Yadiel Hernández, Adrián Sanchez, Gerardo Parra or Yasmany Tomás. And that’s only if the Nationals choose a fifth bench player over a ninth reliever to help their arms ease in.

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Other than that, the most notable cut was one that didn’t happen. At least not yet.

The Nationals chose to keep Todd Peterson, a 23-year-old righty, for just a bit longer. Peterson was a seventh-round pick out of LSU in 2019. In a “B game” against the Houston Astros on Saturday, his fastball was clocked in the high 90s. And while his slider is a work in progress, that velocity piqued the interest of coaches and front office members who watched the short outing.

Every other remaining nonroster invitee has at least a bit of major league experience. That includes veteran pitchers Javy Guerra, Paolo Espino, T.J. McFarland and Aaron Barrett (who underwent right knee surgery at the end of this week); catchers Welington Castillo, Blake Swihart and Brandon Snyder; infielders Mercer, Pérez and Sanchez; and outfielders Parra, Carlos Tocci and Tomás. In that eclectic mix, Peterson stands alone.

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“He threw the ball well the other day. We want to see what he looks like again out of the bullpen,” Martinez explained. “Here’s another young guy that we feel like is going to start. So we’ll have to stretch him out here sooner rather than later. But we want to get him some more innings up here.”

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When was the last time the Nats traded with each of their rivals?

Earlier today, the Red Sox and Yankees spun a trade that sent Adam Ottavino to Boston. When the news was announced, I was shocked that not only did the Yankees send a reliable reliever to a division rival, it was to their most hated enemy.

It had been over six years since the two teams were able to work out a deal. This trade got me thinking and I booted up Baseball Reference’s trade machine to see the last time Washington worked out a deal with an NL East foe.

Atlanta, March 27, 2016: Washington hasn’t made a trade with the Braves since 2016 when the Nationals sent utility man Tyler Moore to Atlanta. Moore had spent four seasons with Washington hitting .228, with 24 homers, 91 RBIs, and an OPS of .682. While in D.C., Moore mostly came off the bench but was given the occasional start.

In return, Washington received Nate Freiman. Unfamiliar with the name? That’s because the team released him a month later and he never received a call-up. Moore didn’t fare much better with Atlanta. He played for the club’s Triple-A team and elected for free agency after the season ended.

Miami, July 31, 2009: In 2018, the two team’s made a deal regarding international bonus slot money. That’s too boring, so we have to go all the way back to 2009 for the last actual trade between the two. Right before the trade deadline, the then Florida Marlins sent Washington Aaron Thompson in return for Nick Johnson. At the time of the trade, Johnson was one of the last remaining Nationals from the team’s inaugural 2005 season. He quickly became a fan favorite, known for rolling up his pants and showing off his high socks. In five seasons with Washington/Montreal, Johnson hit .280. with 56 homers, 248 RBIs, and an OPS of .867. His career was derailed by a string of injuries that led to him being shipped out.

Thompson was a pitching prospect who only spend a year with the club before being claimed off of waivers by the Pirates. Johnson finished the 2009 season with the Marlins before signing to return to the Yankees.

New York, March 30, 2015: Back when Washington was still in Montreal, the Mets were one of the Expos’ most frequent trade partners. In fact, 1968-2002, the two completed 27 trades, which was capped off when Montreal sent the franchise leader in WAR, Gary Carter, to the Mets in 1984. Fast forward to now and the two have only completed five trades together. In 2018, Washington purchased the contract of Matt Reynolds from their rival. The last real trade between the two occurred in 2015 when the Nats traded Jerry Blevins for Matt den Decker.

In one season with Washington, Blevins struggled out of the pen, going 2-3, with a 4.87 ERA, 66 strikeouts, and a 2.77 FIP. Blevins low FIP showed that he had a better season than what his stats showed, but hindsight is 50-50. With the Mets, Blevins became one of their most reliable relievers. In four seasons with New York, the veteran went 14-4, with a 3.38 ERA, 166 strikeouts, and a 3.61 FIP.

Matt den Decker only spent two years in D.C., hitting .233, with six homers, 16 RBIs, and an OPS of .742. He was used as a utility player, but he didn’t produce much. New York clearly won this trade.

Philadelphia, July 28, 2017 : The two teams have a checkered trade history that will always be remembered for Washington acquiring Jonathan Papelbon. Sadly, it’s the same Papelbon that choke slammed Bryce Harper in the dugout during a game. Luckily that wasn’t the last trade the two team’s made together. Instead, the Phillies sent over an aging veteran that would go on to hit the biggest playoff homers in Nationals franchise history. Yes, the last time the two worked out a deal, Howie Kendrick ended up in D.C.

No one would know just how big of an impact Kendrick would have with Washington. At the time of the trade, he was 34 and was acquired for depth for the team’s upcoming playoff run. After the season ended, he re-signed on a two-year deal. He ended up spending the last three and a half seasons of his career in D.C., hitting .316, with 30 homers, 113 RBIs, and an OPS of .873. While he was spectacular during the regular season, he will always be remembered for his clutch homers during the team’s 2019 World Series run.

Washington sent prospect, McKenzie Mills and international slot bonus money to the Phillies. Mills has yet to make his MLB debut and is no longer with Philadelphia. Washington’s best and worst trade have both come with the Phillies, but thankfully Kendrick was able to quell the stench left by Papelbon.