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Nats with more work to do as Meetings end

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- The Nationals had been one of the most active teams in baseball this offseason before the start of the Winter Meetings, and yet they leave Las Vegas with some new questions to answer. They traded away one of the stalwarts of their rotation by shipping Tanner Roark to the Reds for righty Tanner Rainey on Wednesday, and they left the door open on a reunion with Bryce Harper or a potential contract extension with Anthony Rendon.

Even though the Nats appeared to have finished most of their shopping before the Winter Meetings began -- adding Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes at catcher, Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough in the bullpen and signing left-hander Patrick Corbin -- it is clear they are not finished tweaking their roster.

LAS VEGAS -- The Nationals had been one of the most active teams in baseball this offseason before the start of the Winter Meetings, and yet they leave Las Vegas with some new questions to answer. They traded away one of the stalwarts of their rotation by shipping Tanner Roark to the Reds for righty Tanner Rainey on Wednesday, and they left the door open on a reunion with Bryce Harper or a potential contract extension with Anthony Rendon.

Even though the Nats appeared to have finished most of their shopping before the Winter Meetings began -- adding Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes at catcher, Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough in the bullpen and signing left-hander Patrick Corbin -- it is clear they are not finished tweaking their roster.

And that includes potentially re-engaging in talks with Harper, the proverbial door that no one seems willing to close.

"I never close the door on those type of things," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "And we haven't yet."

Video: Martinez on Nats improving in 2019, Harper's status

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS

1. Starting pitching: It's unusual for a team that already signed the best free-agent starter on the market to have starting pitching still as its top need, but that's where the Nats stand after trading Roark. Their rotation behind the trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Corbin is extremely thin and unproven, so the Nats are looking to add one or two starting pitchers.

Video: Collier reports on Roark for Rainey trade

2. Second base: At the start of the offseason, the Nats downplayed the need to upgrade at second base, but this week it became clear they have interest in improving at that position. They reached out to DJ LeMahieu and will continue to explore the market at second base to see if they can find a fit they like.

3. Building a bench: The Nats want to get younger and more athletic and their bench will likely reflect that next year. Instead of a left-handed power bat as a backup first baseman, they might find a more versatile player who can play both first and second base. But the Nats are still building around the periphery of their roster and they need to address their position-player depth.

RULE 5 DRAFT

The Nationals did not select or lose anyone during the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. During the Minor League portion, they selected outfielder Chuck Taylor from the Mariners system. Aside from providing endless opportunities for shoe puns, Taylor should help add outfield depth within the organization, which is key after the Nationals sent Daniel Johnson to Cleveland in the Gomes trade.

GM'S BOTTOM LINE

"I like the roster that we have currently. I think we'll score runs in a different manner. We'll play the game in a different manner than we did last year, probably. But I still think that the upgrade at different positions, and the upgrade in defense will help us play the game better." -- Rizzo, on how the Nats could look different in 2019

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Nats acquire Rainey from Reds in deal for Roark

Washington expected to explore cheaper free-agent options to fill rotation
MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- Even though the Nationals are searching for starting pitching depth, they still traded away one of the stalwarts of their rotation Wednesday, sending right-hander Tanner Roark to the Reds in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey. Roark had been with the organization since 2010 and with the Nationals for six seasons, including his stellar '16 when he finished 10th in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award.

But the 32-year-old Roark has been up and down on the mound ever since and was set to earn a substantial raise from the $6.475 million he made in 2018. While Roark's salary was expected to be reasonable next season, the Nationals believed they could get a free-agent starter to fill out the back end of their rotation for less.

LAS VEGAS -- Even though the Nationals are searching for starting pitching depth, they still traded away one of the stalwarts of their rotation Wednesday, sending right-hander Tanner Roark to the Reds in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey. Roark had been with the organization since 2010 and with the Nationals for six seasons, including his stellar '16 when he finished 10th in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award.

But the 32-year-old Roark has been up and down on the mound ever since and was set to earn a substantial raise from the $6.475 million he made in 2018. While Roark's salary was expected to be reasonable next season, the Nationals believed they could get a free-agent starter to fill out the back end of their rotation for less.

So, when teams began calling after they signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract last week, the Nats entered the Winter Meetings this week open to dealing Roark, and Wednesday's deal came together quickly.

• Roark for Rainey first Tanner-for-Tanner trade ever

Roark's departure leaves Washington's rotation depth thin beyond the trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Corbin, with only Joe Ross, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, and Erick Fedde as starting-pitching options ready for next season. So the Nats will almost certainly add another starter and potentially more than one.

Right-hander Anibal Sanchez and left-hander Wade Miley are two free agents the Nats have discussed, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Video: Anibal Sanchez becomes a free agent in 2019

In exchange for Roark, the Nats acquired Rainey, the Reds' 23rd-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, who posted a 2.65 ERA in 44 games as a reliever in Triple-A with 65 strikeouts in 51 innings. He made his Major League debut with Cincinnati last season, and although he only threw seven innings, his fastball averaged 97.7 mph. Rainey, who will turn 26 this month, also hit triple digits, making him one of just 36 pitchers in all of baseball to do so. Acquiring Rainey should help improve the Nats' bullpen and adds another reliever with options.

Video: Nationals acquire Rainey in trade with Reds

But to do so, they had to part with Roark, who had been one of the most durable and long-tenured members of the rotation. He admitted during a conference call with reporters that he was surprised to learn he was traded.

"But it's the name of the game," Roark said. "This is the way this business is. I'm a Cincinnati Red now, so pretty excited."

Video: MLB Tonight: Tanner Roark traded to Reds

Roark was one of only six pitchers who have thrown at least 180 innings in each of the past three seasons. The Nationals loved and raved about his mentality and competitiveness. However, Roark also posted an ERA higher than 4.30 in three of the past four seasons and has struggled to stay consistent since his impressive 2016 season.

Roark and the Nats' relationship was also not perfect. The Nats bounced him around between the rotation and bullpen at times over the years, even though he preferred to be a starter. He did not pitch in any of the five games during the 2017 National League Division Series loss to the Cubs, and the Nats elected to start Gio Gonzalez over Roark in Game 5.

"Life's too short to hold grudges," Roark said. "But that's what they wanted to do. If they can live with it, then they live with it. They treated me great, but there were times where I would be very frustrated, and I'd get [upset].

"But that made me stronger mentally and how to handle certain things like that. So it helped me."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Tanner Rainey

Boras says market for Harper remains robust

Agent says some clubs are keeping discussions with superstar private
MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- A little more than a month after he proclaimed the start of Harper's Bazaar, Scott Boras stood in front of the giant Christmas tree at Mandalay Bay on Wednesday, swarmed by a horde of reporters, and answered questions for nearly an hour, most of which were about his biggest free agent.

These Winter Meetings being held in Bryce Harper's hometown of Las Vegas could not have been orchestrated any more perfect by Boras himself, the grand stage where one of baseball's biggest stars could sign a record-breaking contract. And yet, Harper's free agency does not appear close to an end, and if it is, Boras did not indicate so.

LAS VEGAS -- A little more than a month after he proclaimed the start of Harper's Bazaar, Scott Boras stood in front of the giant Christmas tree at Mandalay Bay on Wednesday, swarmed by a horde of reporters, and answered questions for nearly an hour, most of which were about his biggest free agent.

These Winter Meetings being held in Bryce Harper's hometown of Las Vegas could not have been orchestrated any more perfect by Boras himself, the grand stage where one of baseball's biggest stars could sign a record-breaking contract. And yet, Harper's free agency does not appear close to an end, and if it is, Boras did not indicate so.

"We've had a lot of meetings over the last three weeks," he said. "We've met with a number of clubs and had a lot of discussions. When you get to that point, certainly something can happen quickly. Something can also happen in a matter of weeks. So, you really can't put a timeline on it."

Latest Hot Stove rumors

Even as several teams lately have, at least publicly, downplayed their interest in signing Harper to the richest free-agent deal in MLB history, Boras described a robust market for Harper, pushing back on the idea that demand for the outfielder might not be as high as it was once assumed.

Nationals owner Mark Lerner said last week he believed Harper had moved on, and then Nats general manager Mike Rizzo left the door open.

"I think when they say the door is open, I would certainly pay attention to what they're saying," Boras said.

The idea that the Yankees are not in on Harper?

"I've never heard the Yankees say that."

Video: MLB Now on the market for Bryce Harper

The Phillies reportedly have focused their sights on Manny Machado. The Cubs have said they do not have room to make large additions to their payroll. The Dodgers and Giants have not appeared willing to hand out those sort of long-term deals.

"This is not a race where every car is labeled," Boras said. "There's a lot of people that want to keep what they're doing very private, which is usually the practice with a major free agent. They're bringing about a process that's different. Some clubs are more open and direct about what they're doing. And some clubs really want a very private process for them."

• Rizzo reaffirms optimism about signing Rendon

One thing Boras made clear again Wednesday was that signing Harper will likely require a long-term commitment. He called the Nationals' initial offer -- reportedly 10 years and $300 million -- respectful but a starting point. Boras also refuted speculation that Harper could perhaps receive a shorter deal at a higher annual value.

"Owners are after -- from a business standpoint, what they're trying to build and look at when they're involved with this kind of player -- they're really after his legacy," Boras said. "They're after building a brand around him, building a team around him ... certainly everyone, I think, that wants Bryce wants to make sure that wherever he does go, he's going to be there a long time."

Video: Martinez on possibility of Harper not returning

Boras also once again sold the value of signing Harper, whom he refers to as a generational talent. He credited Harper with the increase in attendance, TV ratings and value of the Nationals organization. Players with the combination of Harper's youth and accolades -- a six-time All-Star and the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player, who will begin next season at the age of 26 -- rarely hit the market. Harper pays for himself, Boras said.

"I think again, the qualifications to be young, to be extraordinary … there just aren't many players that get to that place and establish that at [26 years] old," Boras said. "You may get one or two if you're lucky in a decade.

"I think in the end all organizations are going to look back on this opportunity and say, 'What should I have done, how should I have done it, what steps should I have taken?' These are pivotal moments. A lot of general managers are going to be evaluated on what they did or didn't do when you have the availability of this player."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Nats 'pen cart ornament among holiday promos

Holiday ticket packs aren't just a great way for baseball fans to ensure that they'll see their favorite team up close next season -- they're also a perfect excuse to add some festive flair to sweeten the deal.

Rizzo reaffirms optimism about signing Rendon

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- On and off for the past year, the Nationals have had discussions with third baseman Anthony Rendon about a potential contract extension. And on Wednesday, general manager Mike Rizzo once again expressed optimism about eventually getting a deal done with Rendon, who could become a free agent next winter.

"I think Anthony wants to be here, I think he wants to be here long term," Rizzo said. "And we want him here. Hopefully there's a deal that transpires out of goodwill between the two sides."

LAS VEGAS -- On and off for the past year, the Nationals have had discussions with third baseman Anthony Rendon about a potential contract extension. And on Wednesday, general manager Mike Rizzo once again expressed optimism about eventually getting a deal done with Rendon, who could become a free agent next winter.

"I think Anthony wants to be here, I think he wants to be here long term," Rizzo said. "And we want him here. Hopefully there's a deal that transpires out of goodwill between the two sides."

Rendon has expressed his desire to remain, including earlier this month at the team's annual WinterFest event when he said he was "up for" signing long term with the Nationals.

That does not mean he is willing to sign for a hometown discount, however, and he said he would be comfortable playing next season without a long-term deal. His agent, Scott Boras, typically brings clients to free agency, but he negotiated a seven-year, $175 million extension for Stephen Strasburg with the Nats before he hit free agency in 2016.

"[Rendon's] been in the top 10 players in the game in the last three or four years," Boras said Wednesday. "I think for Anthony, the recognition that he's received for his performance has -- for whatever reason -- not been to the level of [his performance]. Just this offseason, people are really starting to recognize the type of player he is. ... The Nationals are very aware."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon

Roark for Rainey first Tanner-for-Tanner trade

On Wednesday, the Reds and Nationals pulled off a deal of right-handers, with starter Tanner Roark heading to Cincinnati in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey.

If you're like most people, you probably heard about this deal and wondered (either to yourself or aloud, whichever is your style) if this was the first Tanner-for-Tanner trade in MLB history. 

Athleticism, better defense key for Nats in '19

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- Several times during the first two days of the Winter Meetings this week, the Nationals have stated that the proverbial door is not closed on a potential reunion with Bryce Harper. That does not mean they have not prepared themselves for life beyond Harper, however, and begun to envision how they can still build a successful club.

The 2019 Nationals want to be younger, more athletic and play better defense behind an improved pitching staff headlined by free-agent signing Patrick Corbin. Instead of counting on one player to replace the production lost if Harper signs elsewhere -- on average about 4.4 Wins Above Replacement per season, according to Fangraphs -- they plan to get contributions from a variety of different places.

LAS VEGAS -- Several times during the first two days of the Winter Meetings this week, the Nationals have stated that the proverbial door is not closed on a potential reunion with Bryce Harper. That does not mean they have not prepared themselves for life beyond Harper, however, and begun to envision how they can still build a successful club.

The 2019 Nationals want to be younger, more athletic and play better defense behind an improved pitching staff headlined by free-agent signing Patrick Corbin. Instead of counting on one player to replace the production lost if Harper signs elsewhere -- on average about 4.4 Wins Above Replacement per season, according to Fangraphs -- they plan to get contributions from a variety of different places.

"I'm comfortable with our offense and the ability to score runs and win games," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I like the roster that we have currently. I think we'll score runs in a different manner. We'll play the game in a different manner than we did last year, probably. But I still think that the upgrade at different positions, and the upgrade in defense will help us play the game better."

Nationals explore possibility of Roark trade

On offense, the onus of picking up the production without players like Harper or Daniel Murphy or Matt Adams will be on a few different players. Victor Robles, the Nats' top prospect and MLB Pipeline's No. 4 overall prospect, will likely step into a starting role in center field. They expect Adam Eaton to be healthy for a full season. And the combination of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki should flip catcher from a dead spot in the lineup to a strength.

Washington also aims to be better at run prevention next season. Last year, the Nationals ranked 25th in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved (-55). Murphy was a liability at second base, Matt Wieters was a poor pitch-framer behind the plate and Harper had the worst defensive year of his career. Overall, the team was too old with too many players who did not move around well in the field. The Nats are likely going to upgrade defensively at each of those positions next season.

The Nationals finished last in the National League last season in Baserunning Runs, a metric developed by Baseball Prospectus that calculates how much players contribute above or below an average baserunner. If Washington can run the bases better and turn more balls in play into outs on defense, it expects to be able to replace the production that could be lost from Harper, along with an improved pitching staff led by Corbin.

Video: Martinez thrilled with Nationals' offseason additions

"If you look to see what we're doing, we're trying to get more athletic," manager Dave Martinez said. "We've got younger players coming up. Two catchers that can move pretty good. We've got Robles, Michael [A. Taylor], Eaton, who is going to be healthy, [Juan] Soto moves pretty good in left field. We're trying to get more athletic and change the game.

"We talked a lot about going into Spring Training and really hone in on fundamentals. We lost a lot of games last year [by] one run. Giving teams 28, 29, 30 outs, I think that's the difference. We've got to get better at it."

Athleticism has been key for the Nationals as they prioritize players this offseason. It was one of the main skills Rizzo touted about Corbin during his introductory press conference last week. And perhaps athleticism will tailor their thinking in at least one key bench spot.

To complement Ryan Zimmerman at first base the past few years, the Nats have used players such as Clint Robinson (2014-15), Adam Lind ('16) and Adams ('17). They all provided a left-handed power bat, but little value elsewhere on the field. To fill that role this upcoming season, the Nationals do have interest in adding a player who could potentially play both first and second base.

"We always like a big left-handed bat, but we'll see where it takes us," Rizzo said. "We could go a little bit different this year and go for a more versatile type of bench that could fill in different spots. But there's a lot of different routes that we could do."

Of course, one of those routes also includes re-signing Harper at some point this offseason. But whether Harper returns or not, they have already begun to talk about shifting their focus to fundamentals, which will be one of the focal points and talking points of Spring Training, and making those small tweaks that could lead to major improvements next season.

"Granted, and I'm not going to say we're losing Harp, because the door is still open," Martinez said, "if he's not back, I like the way we're set up."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier

Washington Nationals

Rizzo not ruling out reunion with Harper

MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAS VEGAS -- Despite the comments from Nationals owner Mark Lerner last week that he believed Bryce Harper has "moved on," general manager Mike Rizzo was still not ready to rule out a potential reunion with Harper.

"Nothing has changed with Harp since the end of the season, except I think we're a better team than we were at the end of the season," Rizzo said Monday. "We're not closing the door on anything."

LAS VEGAS -- Despite the comments from Nationals owner Mark Lerner last week that he believed Bryce Harper has "moved on," general manager Mike Rizzo was still not ready to rule out a potential reunion with Harper.

"Nothing has changed with Harp since the end of the season, except I think we're a better team than we were at the end of the season," Rizzo said Monday. "We're not closing the door on anything."

Rizzo shared that sentiment several times during the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, unwilling to rule out the possibility of circling back to renegotiate with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, at some point this offseason. The comments appeared to contrast Lerner's comments during a radio interview this past Friday to 106.7 The Fan, when he said the Nats have already made their best offer to Harper -- reportedly 10 years and $300 million -- which he rejected. Lerner said he believed Harper had moved on and set his sights elsewhere, but Rizzo was not interested in speculating further.

"I didn't make much of it," Rizzo said of Lerner's comments. "Mark was asked to speculate about Harp's future. The one thing I've learned from doing this a long time is I don't speculate about free agents, where they're going, how much they're getting. It's just too difficult, because there are so many factors involved."

Video: MLB Now: Collier on Nats, Harper at Winter Meetings

While the Winter Meetings are in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas this week, several teams are reportedly working out time to meet with Boras about Harper. As of now, the Nationals are not one of them, according to Rizzo, who said he did not have any plans to meet with Harper or Boras this week. That does not mean the Nationals will not schedule a meeting at some point this week or won't later in the offseason, but for now, they are continuing to prepare for life without Harper.

The market for Harper remains a bit unclear. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters he has no interest in adding an outfielder and Harper does not fit in their plans. The Phillies are reportedly working out a time to meet with Boras this week, but their focus seems to be shifting to Manny Machado, according to a report by NBC Sports Philadelphia. If other teams are hesitant, it could perhaps give the Nats room to re-enter the fold for a potential reunion.

Washington has been among the most active teams in the Majors this offseason, adding a pair of relievers and pair of catchers before inking left-hander Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract last week. It was following that press conference where Lerner made his comments about Harper, as speculation rose whether the Nats still had the financial flexibility to pursue their homegrown star after signing Corbin.

Lerner did not express confidence they would have that flexibility or that the initial offer would still be on the table.

"If he comes back, it's a strong possibility that we won't be able to make it work," Lerner said Friday. "But I really don't expect him to come back at this point. I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not [Boras'] M.O., to leave money on the table."

However, it would also be out of character for talks to never re-engage between the Nationals and Harper. He enjoyed his time in Washington and expressed a desire to remain in D.C. if possible several times before the end of the regular season. And the Nationals still think highly of Harper, with Lerner referring to him as family during the radio interview and Rizzo calling him still a "huge part" of the Nationals' plans.

"We love him," Rizzo said, "and we're not closing the door on anybody."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Corbin thrilled to join Nats, imposing rotation

Prized LHP: Pitching staff 'definitely was a big reason that I wanted to come here'
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' courtship of Patrick Corbin was highlighted by a dinner at Fiola Mare in Georgetown, where Corbin, his wife, Jen, and his agent, John Courtright, were hosted by Nats owner Mark Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo. There was extra security at the restaurant because the venue was hosting another special guest that night -- Vice President Mike Pence.

It was a small glimpse into life in D.C. for the recently married Corbins, who put an emphasis on the importance of touring the city in which they would spend much of the next six years of their lives. Of the three cities Corbin visited on his East Coast recruiting tour, which included Philadelphia and New York, D.C. and the Nationals stood out to the couple, who left the dinner raving about the candid and genuine nature of the sitdown compared to other meetings. That, combined with a six-year commitment from Washington worth a reported $140 million, was enough to land the market's top free-agent pitching prize.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' courtship of Patrick Corbin was highlighted by a dinner at Fiola Mare in Georgetown, where Corbin, his wife, Jen, and his agent, John Courtright, were hosted by Nats owner Mark Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo. There was extra security at the restaurant because the venue was hosting another special guest that night -- Vice President Mike Pence.

It was a small glimpse into life in D.C. for the recently married Corbins, who put an emphasis on the importance of touring the city in which they would spend much of the next six years of their lives. Of the three cities Corbin visited on his East Coast recruiting tour, which included Philadelphia and New York, D.C. and the Nationals stood out to the couple, who left the dinner raving about the candid and genuine nature of the sitdown compared to other meetings. That, combined with a six-year commitment from Washington worth a reported $140 million, was enough to land the market's top free-agent pitching prize.

"I'm excited to join the ballclub and be a part of something special," Corbin said during his introductory press conference Friday at Nationals Park. "I know this pitching staff here was definitely a big reason why I wanted to come here, so [I'm] just excited to join the guys and glad I'm part of the family."

Video: Rizzo shares remarks on Corbin's personality

Starting pitching has been the backbone for this team since Rizzo took over, and it was the Nats' strength that led to four National League East titles since 2012. They missed the postseason in '18 in large part because their starting pitching faltered, and the team believes an improved starting staff is its key to returning to the playoffs.

Rizzo weighed the options available via trade or free agency, but he quickly settled on Corbin, who was coming off a career year in which he finished fifth in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award. And Corbin chose the Nats despite interest from the Yankees and Phillies.

"We like that the needle's moving north at 29 years old," Rizzo said. "And we like the fact that all the sexy stats -- as Mad Max [Scherzer] says -- come into play: Strikeouts are up, walks are down, ERA ... all those factors are going in the right direction."

Video: MLB Tonight on the effectiveness of Corbin's slider

Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg sat in the front row -- along with longtime National Ryan Zimmerman and one of their newest acquisitions, Yan Gomes -- to welcome the newest member of their rotation. Those three pitchers will make up one of the premier front-line rotations in all of Major League Baseball, and the Nats have invested more than $500 million in the trio.

Still, Corbin comes with risk, as all pitchers do.

Corbin will turn 30 next summer, and this deal locks him up until he turns 35 years old. He underwent Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2014 season and part of '15, and he spent time in the bullpen in '16 and was solid if unspectacular in '17. The perception of pitchers who rely as heavily on breaking pitches as Corbin does is that they carry a greater injury risk. Yet the Nationals believe they are getting someone closer to the dominant pitcher from this past season, who finished with a 3.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts against 48 walks.

Video: Corbin on slider, adding offspeed pitches

Rizzo pointed to Corbin's development of a new pitch, a curveball which is a slower version of his slider, the fact that he is still getting stronger several years removed from Tommy John surgery and his athleticism as reasons that the lefty projects well long term.

"Now, pitchers are pitchers, there's always that inherent risk of a pitcher breaking down or getting hurt," Rizzo said. "But I thought this was a risk well-taken. We love the make-up and the competitiveness, and we do think the needle is moving north."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Patrick Corbin

Harper moving on, Nats' owner believes

Lerner opens up about pursuit of slugger in radio interview
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began the day Friday with a news conference for new left-hander Patrick Corbin, their chance to introduce and show off the consensus best pitcher on the free-agent market. But they also may have answered one of the biggest questions in the wake of Corbin's six-year contract worth a reported $140 million -- what impact would the signing have on any potential pursuit of Bryce Harper?

It appears Corbin's arrival could coincide with the end of Harper's career with the Nationals. During a radio interview with 106.7 the Fan on Friday afternoon, principal team owner Mark Lerner sounded like he had all but closed the door on the idea of a reunion with Harper.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began the day Friday with a news conference for new left-hander Patrick Corbin, their chance to introduce and show off the consensus best pitcher on the free-agent market. But they also may have answered one of the biggest questions in the wake of Corbin's six-year contract worth a reported $140 million -- what impact would the signing have on any potential pursuit of Bryce Harper?

It appears Corbin's arrival could coincide with the end of Harper's career with the Nationals. During a radio interview with 106.7 the Fan on Friday afternoon, principal team owner Mark Lerner sounded like he had all but closed the door on the idea of a reunion with Harper.

"I really don't expect him to come back at this point," Lerner said. "I think they've decided to move on."

Video: High Heat: Nats not closing door on Harper reunion

Lerner said the Nats have already made their best offer to Harper, a reported 10-year, $300 million contract extended at the end of the regular season.

"When we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do'," Lerner said. "We went right to the finish line very quickly. And we said, 'If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we'll see whether we can finish it up.'

"But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the [National League] East or go farther than that."

So the Nats went to work on their offseason plans. They added a pair of relievers and two catchers before the biggest splash so far in Corbin. All the while it seemed likely the Nationals and Harper would eventually circle back before he made his decision to see if they could reach an agreement. General manager Mike Rizzo said he believed signing Corbin would be "independent" of any pursuit of Harper. 

Video: Rizzo on Nationals' plans for rest of the offseason

However, such decisions were always going to be left in the hands of ownership because re-signing Harper is likely to involve such a massive contract commitment. 

Now even if Harper circles back to Washington, Lerner did not sound confident that initial offer would even still be available.

"If he comes back, it's a strong possibility that we won't be able to make it work," Lerner said. "But I really don't expect him to come back at this point. I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not [agent Scott Boras'] M.O., to leave money on the table."

At times Lerner's sounded as if he was bidding farewell to Harper, as he spoke fondly of the player the organization drafted at the age of 16. He referred to Harper and his wife, Kayla, as family and said he would not hold any hard feelings if they decided to move on.

"This was a special six years, and he'll still be iconic in the city when he comes in playing for another team," Lerner said. "We'll do right by him and have a real ceremony. You can't be mad at him, and I don't think he'd be mad at us if we can't go any further."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Corbin, Nationals agree to 6-year deal

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and left-hander Patrick Corbin officially agreed to a six-year contract on Friday, landing Washington the top free-agent starter on the market. Sources told MLB.com that the deal is worth $140 million.

"We've always said that starting pitching is the driver. As the top free-agent pitcher on the market this offseason, we targeted Patrick from the onset," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He was one of the top pitchers in the National League in 2018, and at 29 years old, we believe the best is yet to come. We are thrilled to bring him into our organization."

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and left-hander Patrick Corbin officially agreed to a six-year contract on Friday, landing Washington the top free-agent starter on the market. Sources told MLB.com that the deal is worth $140 million.

"We've always said that starting pitching is the driver. As the top free-agent pitcher on the market this offseason, we targeted Patrick from the onset," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He was one of the top pitchers in the National League in 2018, and at 29 years old, we believe the best is yet to come. We are thrilled to bring him into our organization."

Corbin came to D.C. last week as part of his East Coast recruiting tour to have dinner and meet with Rizzo and owner Mark Lerner. He selected the Nationals when he reportedly had offers from the Yankees, his hometown team, and the Phillies, although reports indicated that both clubs stopped short of offering a sixth year. Washington was willing to do so in order to add Corbin to a rotation in need of another pitcher.

Corbin will join Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the Nats' rotation, forming one of the best trios in the National League. Starting pitching has been the backbone for the Nats since Rizzo arrived as general manager, and he entered this offseason determined to add to it.

"That's how we've won," Rizzo said this weekend at the team's annual WinterFest event. "When we put our guy on the mound [and he], each day, gives us a chance to win, you've created yourself a chance to have a really good ballclub and play deep into October.

"That's our philosophy. There's different ways to do this. We've seen the 'bullpenning' and that type of thing in playoff baseball, and that's fine. But for the marathon that is the season, you better have some starters that you can run out there and give you a chance to win each and every day, and that's what we've always tried to do here."

Corbin, 29, is coming off a career year with the D-backs after he tossed 200 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts to 48 walks. He made the NL All-Star team for a second time and finished fifth in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award.

Corbin does come with some risk as well. He will turn 30 next summer, missed the entire 2014 season and part of '15 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and pitched out of the bullpen at times in '16. Then he improved in '17 before breaking out this year. Corbin should help bolster a Nats rotation that posted a 4.03 ERA last season, ninth among starting rotations in the NL and Washington's worst finish since 2010. That is as big a reason as any that the Nationals believe they missed the postseason for the first time since 2015.

Video: Heyman breaks down Nats reportedly signing Corbin

Washington has never been shy about investing money on starting pitching. The Nationals have now invested a combined $525 million on their top three starters, committing $210 million to Scherzer, $175 million to Strasburg and now $140 million to Corbin, although each contract features deferrals.

Because the Nationals exceeded the luxury tax last year and Corbin received a qualifying offer from the D-backs, the Nationals will forfeit their second- and fifth-highest picks in next June's Draft, as well as $1 million in international bonus pool money. If Bryce Harper signs elsewhere, the Nationals will receive a compensation pick after the fourth round, meaning they would forfeit their second-round pick and their compensation pick for Harper for signing Corbin.

Video: How will Corbin signing impact Harper's market?

Since the overall value of the deal exceeded $50 million and the D-backs are a team that receives revenue sharing, Arizona will receive a comp pick at the end of the first round.

It is unclear if signing Corbin will affect the Nationals' pursuit of Harper. However, a source with knowledge of their thinking did not believe they would have any effect on each other. The Nats have prioritized a starting pitcher from the start of the offseason, but they also continue to show interest in Harper.

Washington continued its streak of aggressiveness this winter. In October, the Nationals quickly added two relievers by trading for Kyle Barraclough and signing Trevor Rosenthal. Last month, they added two catchers by signing Kurt Suzuki and trading for Yan Gomes. And now they have landed the top prize on the starting-pitching market.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin

Inbox: What's next on busy Nats' to-do list?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers fans' questions
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been among the most active teams in the Majors this offseason, addressing if not crossing off several items on their checklist before the Winter Meetings begin Monday in Las Vegas.

So far, they have added two catchers and two relievers, and they are on the verge of inking the best free-agent starter on the market after agreeing to a six-year deal with left-hander Patrick Corbin on Tuesday, a deal which is still pending a physical, according to a source. And yet, there still could be more additions on the horizon for Washington and notably a resolution for Bryce Harper, who still looms in free agency.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been among the most active teams in the Majors this offseason, addressing if not crossing off several items on their checklist before the Winter Meetings begin Monday in Las Vegas.

So far, they have added two catchers and two relievers, and they are on the verge of inking the best free-agent starter on the market after agreeing to a six-year deal with left-hander Patrick Corbin on Tuesday, a deal which is still pending a physical, according to a source. And yet, there still could be more additions on the horizon for Washington and notably a resolution for Bryce Harper, who still looms in free agency.

Today's Nationals Inbox will take a look at what lies ahead for the rest of the Hot Stove season as general manager Mike Rizzo continues to try and build this team back into a postseason contender.

What's next? Another arm, perhaps a starter like Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ or Derek Holland? A left-handed-hitting infielder? More relief?
-- @givens57 via Twitter

Taking a step back, it's impressive to consider what the Nationals have already accomplished. They could not afford to let this offseason pass without addressing their needs at catcher and in the rotation and bullpen, and they have done something in all three areas. That being said, they are almost certainly not done.

:: Submit a question to the Nationals Inbox ::

The rest of Washington's additions are likely to be minor but important moves. The Nats need to find a backup first baseman, preferably left-handed hitting, to complement Ryan Zimmerman and help round out their bench. They will probably attempt to add more pitching help, both in the bullpen and rotation, but they will likely focus on improving their depth instead of looking at the top-tier free agents available at those positions. And I expect they will explore the second-base market. It's unclear which of these moves the Nationals will focus on first, but I think they will attempt to address all of them.

But first, I expect Washington to get an updated sense of the market for Harper. Club brass is likely to meet with Harper's agent Scott Boras at some point during next week's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, and perhaps the Nats will take the opportunity to meet with Harper, as well.

Tweet from @RayRay3322: Does today's signing in your opinion make it more or less likely that the Nats take a serious run at retaining Bryce Harper? Sign Bryce and maybe look at moving Eaton for 2B help?

I wrote about this after the Corbin signing, and I really don't think it's going to change much in either direction. Put it this way, the Nationals have committed about $43 million to the five players they have added this offseason -- Corbin, Kyle Barraclough, Trevor Rosenthal, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes. But they gained about $62 million from last year's payroll when they lost Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Madson, Matt Wieters, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Kintzler and Matt Adams. They are approaching the expected luxury tax threshold of $206 million, but to sign Harper they are likely going to need to exceed that for a third straight season.

• Latest Harper free-agent rumors

I still believe both sides will circle back at some point this offseason to re-engage conversations of a potential contract, and I do not think the Corbin signing will have much of an impact on the Nats' thinking.

Tweet from @givens57: I want Harper back, but understand why it���s smart to move on. But how would the Nats add pop if they lose Harper?

This is the question I have for the people who argue to let Harper walk. He is not a player without faults, but consider his final numbers from 2018, the first half of which was dominated by headlines from the worst slump of his career: 34 home runs, .393 on-base percentage, .889 OPS, 135 wRC+ with 103 runs scored and 100 RBIs. That's pretty good for a "down year."

Washington will not be counting on one player to replace that production, and few players in baseball can. Instead the Nats will be leaning on a huge offensive upgrade at catcher, a full season of Juan Soto, Victor Robles and a full, healthy season from Adam Eaton to fill in the gaps left by Harper's departure. It's why I would argue they need to be in the market for help at second base as well to help improve a lineup that would be losing perhaps its best hitter. The addition of Corbin will also help cancel out some of the wins lost with Harper. Whether this will be enough remains to be seen.

Tweet from @jmert14: Are the Nats done seeing rotation help Jamal?

Probably not. Starting pitching is so important to Rizzo, and it's the foundation upon which he wants to build a success club. The Nats' rotation is better with Corbin, and the top three of he, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg might be the best in the National League. But it is still short of depth. Tanner Roark has been inconsistent for the past few years, and Joe Ross is coming off Tommy John surgery. Other than Erick Fedde, who has yet to find any extended success in the Majors, there are few Major League-ready arms in the organization. I assume the Nationals are going to explore more depth signings in the rotation going forward, but think closer to Jeremy Hellickson than the top-tier free agents available.

Tweet from @HMaytin: What do you think the ideal second base situation will be for the upcoming season?

If the Nats could have their way, Howie Kendrick would prove ready to go during Spring Training and become the primary second baseman. Perhaps Wilmer Difo makes some strides at the plate as well and they form a nice duo to keep the position warm until Carter Kieboom, the club's second-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, continues his progress in the Minors and gets enough reps to feel comfortable playing second base everyday.

Tweet from @get_a_smile1: Is the Nationals planning to recruit a left-handed bullpen?

I think the Nationals are trying to upgrade their bullpen, and while I have not heard anyone single out a lefty reliever specifically, I would guess a left-hander would be preferred. Washington entered last season with question marks in left-handed relief outside of closer Sean Doolittle, but the Nats were confident because the rest of their setup men had pretty even career splits. The matchup lefty reliever is sort of quietly going away, and more teams are counting on relievers to throw a full inning regardless. So I think the Nats are going to look for an upgrade at reliever, regardless of what hand he throws with, and if a lefty comes along who they like, they will be more inclined to pounce.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Each team's best 1st-rounder of the past decade

MLB.com

The release of the 2019 Draft Top 50 list had the MLB Pipeline staff thinking about Drafts in years past. Teams always want to get that first pick right, and there have been some real home runs hit in the first round.

Who were the best first-round picks for each team over the last decade? MLB Pipeline dug through the first rounds of the last 10 years (2009-18) and picked the top first-rounder for each organization. Only those chosen in what was the official first round each year were considered -- no supplemental picks were allowed. The 2014 Draft has been the most fruitful, with six players from that first round making the list. The Drafts from 2012 and 2009 are right behind with five selections, with the latter boasting the player who has to be the single best first-round selection over the last 10 years.

The release of the 2019 Draft Top 50 list had the MLB Pipeline staff thinking about Drafts in years past. Teams always want to get that first pick right, and there have been some real home runs hit in the first round.

Who were the best first-round picks for each team over the last decade? MLB Pipeline dug through the first rounds of the last 10 years (2009-18) and picked the top first-rounder for each organization. Only those chosen in what was the official first round each year were considered -- no supplemental picks were allowed. The 2014 Draft has been the most fruitful, with six players from that first round making the list. The Drafts from 2012 and 2009 are right behind with five selections, with the latter boasting the player who has to be the single best first-round selection over the last 10 years.

AL East

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays, 2012 (No. 22 overall)
Stroman's profile scared away many teams in the 2012 Draft, but the Duke product has done his part to overcome the stigma associated with being an undersized right-hander. Though he regressed in 2018, while dealing with right shoulder fatigue and, later, a blister issue, Stroman posted back-to-back 200-inning seasons (2016-17) and has been worth 10.6 WAR over five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, 2010 (No. 3 overall)
Machado made the jump straight from Double-A to the Majors as a 19-year-old in late 2012, and quickly became a star. His 33.8 WAR is the highest among 2010 first-round position players, second only to Chris Sale, and after helping guide Baltimore to two postseason appearances as a four-time All-Star, Machado netted the organization five Top 30 prospects when it dealt him to the Dodgers this past July.

Ryne Stanek, RHP, Rays, 2013 (No. 29 overall)
Drafting in the first round has long been a problem for the typically savvy Rays, and even their selection of Stanek isn't a hands-down win for the organization, considering he was viewed as a starter (before needing hip surgery) out of the Draft. That said, the right-hander emerged as a legitimate late-inning weapon (and, at times, an "opener") for the Rays in 2018, when he compiled a 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings over 66 1/3 innings (59 appearances).

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox, 2015 (No. 7 overall)
Benintendi went from unheralded Arkansas freshman to consensus College Baseball Player of the Year as a sophomore, soaring up Draft boards in the process. The Red Sox had him No. 2 on theirs (behind Dansby Swanson), which he justified by becoming a regular in their 2018 World Series championship lineup just 13 months after signing.

Video: 2015 Draft: Red Sox draft OF Andrew Benintendi No. 7

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees, 2013 (No. 32 overall)
Judge was the second of three Yankees first-rounders in 2013, sandwiched between Eric Jagielo (No. 26) and Ian Clarkin (No. 33), and lasting that long because there were questions about how well his massive raw power would translate into production. After only hitting 18 homers in three years at Fresno State and 56 in three seasons in the Minors, he exploded for a rookie-record 52 in 2017.

AL Central

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, 2011 (No. 8 overall)
Cleveland landed perhaps the best player in a historically good first-round class, as Lindor has become one of the faces of game while totaling 23.9 WAR -- second to Mookie Betts (35.2) among 2011 draftees -- and leading the Indians to an American League title (2016) since his debut in '15, when he finished second in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Entering his age-25 season, he's garnered All-Star honors and finished Top 10 in MVP voting in each of the last three years.

Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals, 2009 (No. 12 overall)
The Royals haven't fared well in the first round during the last decade, though Crow made the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2011, and was an effective reliever for four seasons until he blew out his elbow shortly after a trade to the Marlins. Cristian Colon (No. 4 overall, 2010) didn't have as much sustained success but delivered the championship-winning hit in the 2015 World Series.

Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers, 2018 (No. 1 overall)
Perhaps this one is more aspirational because he's thrown only 13 2/3 career innings since being the top pick in last June's Draft, but Mize should be able to use his three plus pitches and his plus control to move quickly through the Tigers' system. Look for him in Detroit sooner rather than later.

Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins, 2016 (No. 16 overall)
The rules for this story don't allow for a supplemental first-round pick to be chosen, otherwise Jose Berrios might be the guy. But after missing the 2017 season, Kirilloff erupted in '18, his first real full season, and is looking like one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.

Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox, 2010 (No. 13 overall)
After 2010's Big Three of Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Machado, Sale should have been the next player taken. But teams psyched themselves out over worries about his low arm slot and desire for a big league contract (typical for top college arms at the time), allowing the White Sox to steal him at No. 13. He was saving games for Chicago by September and has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons as a starter.

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Sale K's Dozier to start off World Series

AL West

Matt Chapman, 3B, A's, 2014 (No. 25 overall)
Chapman emerged as the A's next homegrown star in his first fully healthy season, as he ranked third in WAR (8.2) among all position players, finished seventh in AL MVP voting and took home the revered Platinum Glove award as baseball's best defensive player. His 11.7 WAR in 229 career games is tops among positional players from his Draft class -- ahead of even Trea Turner (10.4), who's played 360 games.

Mike Trout, OF, Angels, 2009 (No. 25 overall)
The teams that say they had Trout No. 2 on their board are sort of like the million people who say they were present for The Shot Heard Round the World. Their loss was the Angels' gain, obviously, as he's turned into one of the game's top stars, with seven All-Star appearances and two MVP Awards.

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros, 2012 (No. 1 overall)
George Springer (No. 11, 2011) and Alex Bregman (No. 2, 2015) can also make a case, but our choice is Correa. A series of impressive pre-Draft workouts gave him late helium and made him the first Puerto Rican taken with the top choice. He won AL Rookie of the Year Award honors in '15, then received All-Star recognition and won a World Series two year later.

Video: ALCS Gm1: Correa knocks go-ahead single in 6th

Mike Zunino, C, Mariners, 2012 (No. 3 overall)
Zunino struggled for several years after being rushed to the Major Leagues and hit .207 over 2,000 plate appearances with Seattle. His combination of right-handed power and strong defense behind the plate, however, became increasingly valuable, especially with the quality of the position on the decline across the Majors.

Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers, 2012 (No. 29 overall)
The Rangers' 13 first-round picks from the last decade have produced only three big leaguers and a combined -0.4 WAR so far. An exceptional athlete who has yet to hit in the Majors, Brinson went to the Brewers in a deal for Jeremy Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy in July 2016, and to the Marlins in a trade for Christian Yelich last January.

NL East

Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves, 2017 (No. 5 overall)
The Braves hoped Wright would move quickly when they took him with their first pick in the 2017 Draft out of Vanderbilt. Starting his first full season in Double-A was a good sign and reaching Atlanta before the year was over was ahead of schedule, even for a fast-tracker.

Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins, 2010 (No. 23 overall)
One of the 2010 Draft's better hitters as a California prep, Yelich reached the Majors in mid-2013 and received a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension two years later. He hit .290/.369/.432 (18.6 WAR) over 643 games with Miami, and then helped the organization restock its farm system with four prospects, including Brinson and Monte Harrison, when they dealt him to Milwaukee last offseason. In his first year with the Brewers, Yelich won the batting title (.326) and powered the club to the National League Championship Series en route to MVP honors.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Yelich crushes solo homer to right-center

Michael Conforto, OF, Mets, 2014 (No. 10 overall)
It took the Oregon State product only a year to get to the big leagues, and while his performance has been a little up and down, he's hit 56 homers the last two years and has an All-Star nod already on his resume. Still only 25, he has already amassed nearly 1,400 Major League at-bats.

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals, 2010 (No. 1 overall)
The Nationals' selection of Harper with the first pick in the 2010 Draft forever changed the course of the franchise, as it gave the club a player with near-immediate impact potential as well as generational-star upside worthy of building around. Over seven seasons with the Nats, Harper -- a six-time All-Star and the 2015 NL MVP -- hit .279/.388/.512 with 184 homers in 927 games, good for a 27.4 WAR.

Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies, 2014 (No. 7 overall)
Nola took his combination of solid stuff and outstanding command and made a beeline to Philadelphia, joining the rotation in just over a year following his selection. And the 25-year-old is just getting going, making his first All-Star team and finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2018.

NL Central

Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers, 2017 (No. 9 overall)
The Brewers' track record with first-round picks isn't great, but Hiura could soon help reverse that trend. After leading all Division I hitters in average (.442) as a UC Irvine junior, Hiura raked his way up to Double-A this past season and then took home MVP honors in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. He still needs some more time in the Minors, but it shouldn't be long before Hiura is driving in runs from the middle of Milwaukee's order.

Jack Flaherty, RHP, 2014 (No. 34 overall)
The Cardinals have had some solid back-half-of-the-first-round selections, like Michael Wacha and Kolten Wong, but Flaherty made it to the big leagues in 2017, then finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in '18. Flaherty will be only 23 in 2019, so the best may be yet to come.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs, 2013 (No. 2 overall)
Bryant had a stunning junior season at San Diego, swatting 31 homers to not only lead NCAA Division I but also topping 223 of the 296 teams at that level. He raced to the big leagues, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 and encoring with an NL MVP Award and World Series championship the next season.

Video: STL@CHC: Bryant belts a towering solo homer to center

Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates, 2011 (No. 1 overall)
Cole's 17.4 WAR is more than double any other Pirates' first-rounder in the last decade. Perhaps his tenure with Pittsburgh was up and down, but he made the All-Star team, finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting and made three postseason starts in 2015. He's also topped 200 innings in three of the last four years (albeit the last one coming for the Astros).

Mike Leake, RHP, Reds, 2009 (No. 8 overall)
Leake spent exactly zero days in the Minor Leagues between getting drafted and his Major League debut, breaking with the Reds' rotation on Opening Day in 2010. He's compiled more WAR than any Reds first-rounder in the last 10 years (15.6) and his trade to the Giants in 2015 netted them Adam Duvall (two years of 30-plus homers) and Keury Mella, who should contribute to the pitching staff in '19.

NL West

A.J. Pollock, OF, D-backs, 2009 (No. 17 overall)
When Pollock was coming out of Notre Dame, he was a solid college performer, but one who didn't have a plus tool, so some thought he might end up a bit of a tweener. There have been some injuries, but there's also been an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove as an everyday center fielder, one who is currently coveted on the free-agent market.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers, 2012 (No. 18 overall)
After taking pitchers with their previous six first-round choices -- landing Clayton Kershaw and five non-impact big leaguers -- the Dodgers changed course and went for Seager, who was one of the better all-around high school bats but also came with some signability concerns in the first Draft with bonus-pool rules. He signed for $2.35 million ($400,000 above the assigned value at No. 18) and proved well worth it, earning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and All-Star recognition in each of his two full big league seasons.

Zack Wheeler, RHP, Giants, 2009 (No. 6 overall)
He wasn't a cornerstone of World Series championships like Giants 2006-08 first-rounders Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, but the guy who followed them has been a quality big league starter when healthy. Wheeler didn't last long with San Francisco, however, going to the Mets in a 2011 trade for Carlos Beltran.

Trea Turner, SS, Padres, 2014 (No. 13 overall)
Turner played the first half of his pro debut on borrowed time, as he'd already been dealt to the Nationals as part of a three-team trade with Tampa Bay (that netted the Padres Wil Myers) by the time the 2015 season began. He's emerged as one of the more impactful young players with the Nats.

Video: Draft 2014: Padres draft SS Trea Turner No. 13

Kyle Freeland, LHP, Rockies, 2014 (No. 8 overall)
The Rockies hoped for Kyle Schwarber or Nola, but the Cubs and Phillies foiled those plans and led them to Freeland, whose elbow worried some clubs because he had arthroscopic surgery as a Denver high schooler. He had bone chips removed from his elbow in 2015 but has been otherwise healthy, winning 11 games as a rookie in '17 and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting last season.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.