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Pipeline names Nationals' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Two players who made arguably the most encouraging strides throughout the Nats' Minor League system have been selected as MLB Pipeline's Prospects of the Year for the Nationals.

Righty Jefry Rodriguez and shortstop Carter Kieboom have been named the team's pitcher and hitter of the year, respectively, as their strides in 2018 could set them up to become major contributors as soon as next season in D.C. Kieboom is the second ranked prospect in the Nats system and 37th overall in baseball. Rodriguez graduated from the prospect list late this year after appearing in 14 games in the Majors.

WASHINGTON -- Two players who made arguably the most encouraging strides throughout the Nats' Minor League system have been selected as MLB Pipeline's Prospects of the Year for the Nationals.

Righty Jefry Rodriguez and shortstop Carter Kieboom have been named the team's pitcher and hitter of the year, respectively, as their strides in 2018 could set them up to become major contributors as soon as next season in D.C. Kieboom is the second ranked prospect in the Nats system and 37th overall in baseball. Rodriguez graduated from the prospect list late this year after appearing in 14 games in the Majors.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

After injuries derailed his progress the year prior, Kieboom stayed healthy enough this year to play in 123 games and rose from Class A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg. He represented Washington in the Futures Game at Nationals Park over the summer. Kieboom, the team's first-round pick in 2016, finished the year batting .280/.357/.444 with 16 home runs and nine stolen bases. Kieboom is expected to play in the Arizona Fall League this month.

The rapid rise of Juan Soto helped lead to some calls to push Kieboom, 21, to the Majors quickly when the Nats needed help at second base. However, Kieboom has played only shortstop through his Minor League career and the team did not consider calling him up to play a position he has never played. Finding an everyday second baseman will be a priority for Washington this winter, but perhaps a position change at the start of next year could put Kieboom on a quick track to D.C.

A plethora of injuries to the starting rotation led to Rodriguez getting his chance to start in the Majors much more quickly than expected. And perhaps no player in the organization showed as much improvement from the start of the year to the end.

Video: WSH@NYM: Rodriguez K's 3 in 6 scoreless

His overall numbers -- 5.71 ERA in 52 innings -- do not tell the entire story of his season. In his first five Major League appearances, Rodriguez posted a 6.86 ERA with 17 strikeouts and 12 walks, relying mostly on his big fastball to try to get outs. But he developed a changeup and became more confident throwing it during his final nine games in D.C., despite a 5.01 ERA inflated by a bad start against the Brewers on Sept. 2. In those final nine games, Rodriguez held opponents to a .195 batting average and .679 OPS.

Starting pitching is an area the Nats will certainly need to address in the offseason, but it is possible Rodriguez gets a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation entering Spring Training or perhaps gets converted into a multi-inning reliever.

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

Every club's best individual playoff performance

From MadBum to Mr. October, these runs went down in franchise lore
MLB.com

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

Note: We're sticking to the divisional era here, which goes back to 1969, and is the dawn of the modern postseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Paul Molitor, 1993
.447/.527/.851, World Series MVP
Everyone remembers the Joe Carter homer, but Molitor was a monster that whole postseason for the Blue Jays at the age of 37. He was terrific back in 1982 for the Brewers, too.

Orioles: Brooks Robinson, 1970
.485/.471/.788, World Series MVP
This was, of course, the same World Series in which he made the ridiculous play at third base … though with Robinson, it's always a question of which ridiculous play.

Video: #WeKnowPostseason: Robinson's Play

Rays: James Shields, 2008
2-2, 25 IP, 2.88 ERA
This is where the "Big Game James" nickname came from, even if it maybe lasted a year or two longer than it should have.

Red Sox: David Ortiz, 2004
.400/.515/.764, ALCS MVP
It's rather difficult, all told, to figure out which Ortiz postseason to pick: He had an OPS over 1.204 in October for all three of the Red Sox championship teams he played for.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm7: Ortiz's homer gives Red Sox early lead

Yankees: Reggie Jackson, 1978
.417/.511/.806
The highest qualified OPS by Yankees are, in fact, 2018 Aaron Judge and 2006 Derek Jeter ... but how do you not pick Mr. October?

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Orel Hershiser, 1995
4-1, 35 1/3 IP, 1.53 ERA, ALCS MVP
The season with the other Indians' World Series loss -- no, the other one -- featured vintage Hershiser ... and he split a couple of duels with Greg Maddux in the World Series, too.

Royals: Danny Jackson, 1985
2-1, 26 IP, 1.04 ERA
Bret Saberhagen is remembered as the hero of this Royals team -- along with Don Denkinger, of course -- but Jackson was actually the best pitcher for the Royals that postseason.

Tigers: Alan Trammell, 1984
.419/.500/.806, World Series MVP
Trammell put the perfect capper on the Tigers' dream season. This was a quiet argument for Trammell's Hall of Fame candidacy.

Twins: Jack Morris, 1991
4-0, 36 1/3 IP, 2.23 ERA, World Series MVP
Speaking of the Hall of Fame ... this postseason is almost certainly why Morris currently has a plaque in Cooperstown.

Video: 1991 WS Gm7: Morris' 10-inning shutout

White Sox: Jermaine Dye, 2005
.311/.415/.444, World Series MVP
Several White Sox players had a higher OPS than Dye that postseason -- including Joe Crede, Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko -- but you've got to go with the World Series MVP.

AL WEST

Angels: Francisco Rodriguez, 2002
5-1, 18 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA
Back when there were more rigid bullpen roles, K-Rod was deployed liberally and devastatingly in 2002, back when he was 20 years old.

Astros: Carlos Beltran, 2004
.435/.536/1.022
Cardinals fans will be having nightmares about 2004 Carlos Beltran for decades to come ... and they won that series.

Video: 2004 NLCS Gm4: Beltran hits eighth homer of playoffs

Athletics: Dave Stewart, 1989
4-0, 32 IP, 2.25 ERA, World Series MVP
Stewart had a career 2.77 postseason ERA in 133 innings ... he would actually win the ALCS MVP the very next season, too.

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., 1995
.364/.442/.818
Jay Buhner was just as good as The Kid in 1995 ... but Griffey is Griffey.

Rangers: Juan Gonzalez, 1996
.438/.526/1.375
The Rangers actually lost this Division Series in four games, but good heavens, was Juan Gone ever a monster, hitting five homers in four games.

Video: 1996 ALDS Gm4: Juan Gonzalez's fifth home run of ALDS

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: John Smoltz, 1996
4-1, 38 IP, 0.95 ERA
You could also go with Greg Maddux's 1995 run -- since the Braves won the World Series that year, after all -- and you wouldn't be wrong.

Marlins: Josh Beckett, 2003
2-2, 42 2/3 IP, 2.11 ERA, World Series MVP
After the Yankees and Red Sox had their first of two epic postseason battles, Beckett was happy to pick up the pieces in the World Series.

Video: WS Gm6: Beckett shuts out Yanks as Marlins win series

Mets: Bobby Ojeda, 1986
2-0, 27 IP, 2.33 ERA
Of all the great Mets starters on that team, it was Ojeda who had the best postseason.

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, 2017
1-1, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA
Since we're excluding the Expos -- if we weren't, Steve Rogers in 1981 would be the obvious answer here -- we must dig into the gruesome land of the Nationals' postseason failures. Strasburg has the ultimate Nationals playoff line: 0 earned runs, 1 loss.

Video: WSH@CHC Gm4: Strasburg K's 12 over seven scoreless

Phillies: Cliff Lee, 2009
4-0, 40 1/3 IP, 1.56 ERA
Cole Hamels had the World Series MVP in '08, but Lee was actually better, in five more innings.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Ryan Braun, 2011
.405/.468/.714
This postseason performance feels like a lifetime ago, but it's one the Brewers sure would appreciate a repeat of.

Cardinals: David Freese, 2011
.397/.465/.794, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Freese actually struggled in the NLDS this season ... though he ended up making up for it.

Video: Must C Comeback: Freese's triple ties it up in ninth

Cubs: Jon Lester, 2016
3-1, 35 2/3 IP, 2.02 ERA, NLCS co-MVP
Lester still feels like the postseason starter Cubs fans trust most, and probably always will.

Pirates: Willie Stargell, 1979
.415/.435/.927, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
He also shared the regular-season MVP Award this year, pulling off the rare trifecta.

Reds: Johnny Bench, 1976
.444/.464/.926, World Series MVP
Bench was as dominant as the Reds were in this matter-of-fact World Series sweep.

NL WEST

D-backs: Curt Schilling, 2001
4-0, 48 1/3 IP, 1.12 ERA, World Series co-MVP
Randy Johnson's line this exact 2001 postseason: 5-1, 41 1/3 IP, 1.52 ERA. That is ... difficult to beat.

Video: WS2001 Gm4: Schilling comes up clutch on short rest

Dodgers: Hershiser, 1988
3-0, 1 SV, 42 2/3 IP, 1.05 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Hershiser is the only pitcher to be on this list twice ... and how could he not be?

Giants: Madison Bumgarner, 2014
4-1, 1 SV, 52 2/3 IP, 1.03 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
This is an obvious pick, but at this point I'd like to remind you that Barry Bonds put up a .356/.581/.978 in 2002.

Video: WS2014 Gm7: Bumgarner sets postseason innings record

Padres: Sterling Hitchcock, 1998
3-0, 22 IP, 1.23 ERA, NLCS MVP
He gave up only one earned run in six innings in his lone World Series start ... not that it did the Padres much good.

Rockies: Kaz Matsui, 2007
.304/.347/.500
It was a strange postseason for the Rockies in 2007, but if you forget the World Series happened altogether, it was a glorious one.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Nats get Barraclough in deal with Marlins

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began revamping their bullpen on Wednesday, one of the vital keys for trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 season. The team acquired reliever Kyle Barraclough from the Marlins in exchange for international bonus money in their first step toward solidifying their relief core.

Barraclough had emerged as a strikeout artist in the Miami bullpen over his four big league seasons, with a 3.21 career ERA and an overall mark of 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 60 appearances in each of the past three seasons and struck out 60 batters in 55 2/3 innings in 2018, although his ERA jumped to a career-high 4.20, largely the product of a rocky second half.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began revamping their bullpen on Wednesday, one of the vital keys for trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 season. The team acquired reliever Kyle Barraclough from the Marlins in exchange for international bonus money in their first step toward solidifying their relief core.

Barraclough had emerged as a strikeout artist in the Miami bullpen over his four big league seasons, with a 3.21 career ERA and an overall mark of 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 60 appearances in each of the past three seasons and struck out 60 batters in 55 2/3 innings in 2018, although his ERA jumped to a career-high 4.20, largely the product of a rocky second half.

Barraclough allowed 19 runs in 8 2/3 innings in his first 12 appearances out of the All-Star break before settling down over the last couple of weeks of September. In the first half, Barraclough was dominant, however, posting a 1.28 ERA and being named June's National League Reliever of the Month. That's the form the Nationals hope they'll be getting.

Video: MIA@NYM: Barraclough strands the winning run on third

At some point this past summer, the Nats had one of their most formidable relief corps in team history, pairing four pitchers -- Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler -- with vast high leverage experience who could still perform. They built a bullpen that would help carry them in the postseason; however, the team failed to even reach the goal. Kintzler and Madson were traded away midseason to the Cubs and Dodgers, respectively, while Doolittle and Herrera spent much of the second half on the disabled list.

Doolittle, who has a team option almost certain to be picked up, will likely be the only significant veteran reliever to return. That could put Barraclough in a position to play a major role in the bullpen if he can return to his form of the first half.

One thing is for certain -- this move is a signal that the bullpen will be a major point of emphasis for Washington this offseason.

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

Washington Nationals, Kyle Barraclough

Here's what happened in Monday's AFL action

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Monday:

• GamedaySurprise 2, Scottsdale 0 | Peoria 13, Salt River 4 | Mesa 8, Glendale 0

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Monday:

• GamedaySurprise 2, Scottsdale 0 | Peoria 13, Salt River 4 | Mesa 8, Glendale 0

AL East

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

Blue Jays
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, continued a torrid fall with another hit, a seventh-inning single, in Surprise's 2-0 win over Scottsdale on Monday, and added a walk in a 1-for-4 evening at the plate. Blue Jays No. 9 prospect Cavan Biggio added a walk and run in five trips to the plate.

Orioles
A pair of Orioles prospects -- southpaw Tyler Erwin and right-hander Jay Flaa -- turned in strong relief performances in a losing effort for Glendale. Erwin struck out a batter in a perfect inning, while Flaa walked one batter in a scoreless inning. Third baseman Steve Wilkerson collected one of Glendale's five hits, batting 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. The O's No. 12 prospect, center fielder Ryan McKenna, went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Rays
Shortstop Lucius Fox, the Rays' No. 9 prospect, reached base five times with two hits and three walks from the leadoff spot to key a 13-run outburst by Peoria on Monday. No. 25 prospect Ryan Boldt added two hits and two walks, including an RBI single. No. 17 prospect Joe McCarthy, the left fielder, was 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout. Starting pitcher Matt Krook got Peoria in an early hole, allowing four runs in 2 2/3 innings, with two of those runs brought in by a double off reliever Dalton Moats, who otherwise pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Video: Fox on game, lessons learned at Arizona Fall League

Red Sox
Second baseman Esteban Quiroz scored and added a single in five trips to the plate for the Solar Sox in their 8-0 shutout of Glendale.

Yankees
Right-hander Jordan Foley started for Glendale and gave up two unearned runs, two hits and two walks while striking out three batters in his second appearance of fall. Righty Kyle Zurak gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning. Steven Sensley had one of five Glendale hits. Yankees No. 2 prospect Estevan Florial went 0-for-3 with a walk, and No. 16 Thairo Estrada went 0-for-4.

AL Central

Indians
Jared Robinson absorbed the brunt of the damage in Glendale's loss to Mesa, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out two batters in his first AFL appearance of 2018. Right-fielder Connor Marabell went 1-for-4, and catcher Li-Jen Chu hit a pinch-hit double in the eighth.

Royals
Surprise trotted out four Royals pitching prospects to combine for a four-hit shutout against Scottsdale on Monday night, started by No. 26 prospect Scott Blewett (4 IP, 4 K) and finished by No. 12 prospect Arnaldo Hernandez (2 IP, 1 K), Grant Gavin (2 IP, 3 K) and Walker Sheller, who earned the save with a perfect ninth inning. Royals No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

Video: Top Prospects: Scott Blewett, RHP, Royals

Tigers
Left fielder Daniel Woodrow went 2-for-4 with a run scored for Mesa. It's his second multi-hit game in a row.

Twins
Right fielder Luke Raley, the Twins' No. 19 prospect, went 0-for-2 with a walk and scored on a sacrifice fly in Salt River's 13-4 loss to Peoria. Jaylin Davis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as the starting designated hitter.

White Sox
White Sox No. 28 prospect Laz Rivera, a shortstop, went 0-for-4 for Glendale.

AL West

A's
A quartet of A's prospects -- Calvin Coker (1 1/3 innings), Angel Duno (2 IP), Jake Bray (1 IP) and Sam Sheehan (1 2/3 IP) -- combined to pitch six scoreless innings in relief against Glendale. Center fielder Luis Barrera drove in a pair of runs and scored two with a hit and a walk. Designated hitter Eli White, the A's No. 18 prospect, was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a run, a walk and a stolen base.

Angels
Right-hander Jesus Castillo, the Angels' No. 12 prospect, started for Mesa and pitched three scoreless frames, holding Glendale to just three hits and a walk while fanning five batters. David MacKinnon drew two walks, and Roberto Baldoquin went hitless in five at-bats but plated two runs on ground outs.

Video: Castillo on pitching performance in Fall League

Astros
Astros No. 24 prospect Trent Thornton was the first man out of the bullpen for Scottsdale, allowing two hits in two shutout innings with three strikeouts and a walk. No. 21 prospect Abraham Toro-Hernandez and center fielder Ronnie Dawson were both hitless as the Scorpions were shut out by Surprise.

Mariners
Mariners No. 2 prospect Evan White continued a strong fall with an RBI double and bases-loaded walk in Peoria's 13-run showing to bring his AFL RBI total up to seven. Catcher Joe DeCarlo hit a two-run double and walked twice while scoring three runs.

Rangers
Julio Pablo Martinez drove in one of Surprise's two runs with an RBI groundout and also doubled in four trips to the plate. Charles Leblanc started at designated hitter and singled in a 1-for-4 performance.

NL East

Braves
A pair of Braves prospects pitched effectively in relief for Peoria, with Thomas Burrows, Atlanta's No. 19 prospect, throwing two hitless innings with four strikeouts, and Adam McCreery tossing a scoreless ninth inning in the Javelinas' 13-4 victory. Center fielder Cristian Pache, the Braves' No. 6 prospect, hit an RBI single and walked twice, while second baseman Ray-Patrick Didder was 1-for-4 with a run scored.

Marlins
Marlins No. 1 prospect Monte Harrison extended Salt River's early lead with a two-run double, but teammates Brian Miller and Bryson Brigman went hitless in the loss to Peoria. Kyle Keller got the final out for Salt River, while Tommy Eveld was charged with four runs after walking two and allowing two hits to Peoria in one-third of an inning.

Mets
No. 24 prospect Stephen Nogosek threw a scoreless eighth inning for Scottsdale with a strikeout and a walk, while No. 1 prospect Andres Jimenez and No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso were each hitless in four at-bats. Ali Sanchez entered as a defensive replacement at catcher for the ninth inning.

Nationals
Southpaw Jordan Milles pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a losing effort for the Rafters, holding Peoria to one hit and a walk while striking out one batter. Nationals No. 2 prospect Carter Kieboom went 0-for-2, but drew two walks and scored a run. No. 7 Daniel Johnson, an outfielder, went 0-for-4, and left-hander Ben Braymer allowed four runs on a hit and three walks and recorded just one out.

Phillies
Phillies No. 11 prospect Arquimedes Gamboa and outfielder Luke Williams had two of the Scorpions' four hits, while Darick Hall went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the designated hitter. Jonathan Hennigan pitched the fifth inning and allowed one of the two Surprise runs, while Seth McGarry relieved Hennigan and threw two shutout innings with two strikeouts.

NL Central

Brewers
Keston Hiura, the Brewers' No. 1 prospect, drove in three runs with a bases-loaded walk and two-run single to collect his 10th RBI of AFL play. No. 8 prospect Daniel Brown pitched a scoreless eighth inning with a strikeout.

Cardinals
Second baseman Andy Young was one of two Surprise hitters with multiple hits and drove in one of the Saguaros' two runs with a first-inning RBI single. Catcher Jeremy Martinez walked in all four of his plate appearances in a perfect night at the plate.

Cubs
The Cubs' No. 6 prospect, shortstop Nico Hoerner, turned in a three-hit performance for a second straight game and scored a run in Mesa's win. Right fielder Trent Giambrone (Cubs' No. 29) and catcher P.J. Higgins each went 0-for-4 with a run and a walk.

Pirates
Pirates No. 16 prospect Will Craig went 2-for-4 as one of two Saguaros hitters with multiple hits, while No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker singled to start the game before scoring on a sacrifice fly.

Reds
Outfielder Taylor Trammell, the Reds' No. 3 prospect, knocked two singles on Monday night and was the only Scottsdale hitter with multiple hits. No. 8 prospect Shed Long walked in a pinch-hit at-bat, while starter Austin Orewiler took the loss after allowing one run on three hits in two innings.

NL West

D-backs
Arizona's No. 5 prospect, catcher Daulton Varsho, went 0-for-3 but drew a walk. Two pitching prospects pitched for Salt River: Kevin Ginkel, who tossed 1 1/3 innings and struck out three while allowing a run, and Bo Takahashi, who took the loss after being charged for four runs on four hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Dodgers
Right-handers Nolan Long and Jordan Sheffield each made scoreless relief appearances for Glendale. Long allowed two hits and struck out three in two scoreless frames, and Sheffield struck out one in a perfect frame with one strikeout. Catcher Keibert Ruiz went 1-for-3, and designated hitter Cody Thomas went 0-for-2 with a walk.

Giants
Sam Wolff struck out a batter in a scoreless ninth in Scottsdale's loss to Surprise, and catcher Matt Winn went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

Padres
Padres No. 23 prospect Hudson Potts tied the team lead with three RBIs with a pair of run-scoring singles and scored a run in Peoria's 13-4 win. Hansel Rodriguez picked up his first win of the fall by pitching a scoreless fifth inning before his lineup exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the frame.

Rockies
Rockies No. 10 prospect Ryan Castellani was wild but effective in a solid start, walking three but keeping Peoria off the board in 3 2/3 hitless innings. No. 11 prospect Tyler Nevin was 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, while Josh Fuentes doubled, walked and scored a run in a 1-for-4 performance.

Inbox: Could Nats deal Eaton if Harper returns?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from fans
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- There are so many questions the Nationals will have to answer this offseason as they look to build themselves back into a contender after missing the postseason in 2018. Most of them revolve around Bryce Harper and whether the team re-signs him, which would have a huge impact on how the rest of Washington's offseason plays out.

Re-sign Harper, and all of a sudden, the Nats are working with an excess of outfielders and would be free to deal some of those players to fill other needs. If Harper walks, then Washington can use the salary it had planned for him to fill other needs.

WASHINGTON -- There are so many questions the Nationals will have to answer this offseason as they look to build themselves back into a contender after missing the postseason in 2018. Most of them revolve around Bryce Harper and whether the team re-signs him, which would have a huge impact on how the rest of Washington's offseason plays out.

Re-sign Harper, and all of a sudden, the Nats are working with an excess of outfielders and would be free to deal some of those players to fill other needs. If Harper walks, then Washington can use the salary it had planned for him to fill other needs.

Submit a question to the Nationals Inbox

To help sort out the myriad of questions facing Washington this offseason, the Nationals Inbox will be a regular feature this offseason, starting today with fans wondering what happens to the other outfielders on the roster not named Harper or prized young players like Juan Soto or Victor Robles.

Tweet from @that_knight1: @JamalCollier As a fan of the great outfield we had at the end of the year. Are the Nationals considering trading Adam Eaton if they resign Bryce Harper?

How the Nationals handle their potentially crowded outfield will be one of the most fascinating storylines of the offseason. If Harper returns, it would free Washington to potentially explore trading some of its other outfielders. If you pencil in Harper and Soto, the Nationals have three other Major League-caliber outfielders in Eaton, Robles and Michael A. Taylor. Robles would be the most attractive trade chip because of his age (21) and prospect pedigree. But would Washington explore trading Eaton?

On one hand, it makes sense. Eaton is signed through 2019 with affordable team options for '20 and '21, so his contract would be an enticing trade option for most teams. And it would allow Washington to keep its two true center fielders in Robles and Taylor to go with Harper and Soto as corner outfielders. However, Eaton will turn 30 in December, has been limited to 118 games over the past two seasons because of knee and ankle injuries that will likely reduce him to a corner-outfield role in the future. It's very likely his trade value is at one of its lowest points. Perhaps a team will still value Eaton as heavily as the Nationals did when they acquired him in December 2016, but he might have to prove he can remain healthy for a full season before teams are willing to deal major pieces for him.

Tweet from @Jofi_Joseph_99: What's Michael A. Taylor's future with this team?

That brings us to Taylor, who endured a setback in his standing with the team last season. A year ago, Taylor was Washington's breakout postseason star, a finalist for a National League Gold Glove Award in 2017 and ready to be the Nats' Opening Day center fielder for the first time. But he struggled mightily at the plate through the first two months of the season, and even though he got hot in June, he struggled to find playing time behind Harper, Soto and Eaton. That made him the odd man out for much of the second half, and he was bumped further down the depth chart when Robles was called up in September.

I'm guessing the Nats will look into trade options for Taylor this offseason, especially if Harper re-signs. While Taylor can be a stellar fourth outfielder, it might be time to strike before his value further dips and deal him in an effort to address one of the team's other holes. A change of scenery and fresh start could be best for the 27-year-old.

Tweet from @AllDayEryDay: Who are the free agent starting pitchers that Nationals will attempt to sign?

Exactly who the Nats' targets will be this offseason is unclear because of some uncertain factors surrounding their pursuit of starting pitching, which will be a priority this offseason after their rotation faltered last season. First off, everything depends on Harper. If they sign Harper to a large deal, perhaps they would rather find a front-line starting pitcher through a trade instead of in free agency. If Harper signs elsewhere, they could use that money to sign one of the premier free-agent starters.

With the departure of Gio Gonzalez, Washington has been connected to left-handed starters such as Patrick Corbin of the D-backs in free agency, but I would focus more on the quality of pitcher instead of what hand he throws with. I could also see the Nats exploring deals for bounce-back starting pitching candidates similar to Jeremy Hellickson.

Tweet from @axdebes: At what point will the Nats start looking for a more durable first baseman? Zim has averaged only 100 games a season over the last five years.

Washington has basically done this in each of the past three seasons by rostering a left-handed complement for Zimmerman at first base -- Clint Robinson in 2016, Adam Lind in '17 and Matt Adams last season. I'd anticipate something similar next season. Once Zimmerman got healthy following the All-Star break, he posted a .911 OPS in the second half. He and the team will continue to repeat that when he's healthy he has produced. But they also understand at 34-years old has an extensive injury history, so Zimmerman will be treated with care. Expect the team to find someone to help lighten his workload next season.

Tweet from @kay8tch: Will Riz let Difo and Kieboom fight it out for 2b in spring training or will he look for a veteran 2b, using Kendrick in a super utility role?

Finding a second baseman would be high on my priority list for Washington. Howie Kendrick is 35 and coming off a torn right Achilles, so it would be wise to not count on him in an everyday role. Wilmer Difo has had hot streaks but never sustained success at the plate, and the organization will not want to rush Carter Kieboom, their No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who still has not played second base professionally.

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

Washington Nationals, Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper

Here are key FAQs about Nationals' offseason

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are gearing up for what will be, perhaps, the most important offseason in team history. They believe the 2018 season -- in which they finished 82-80 and missed the postseason -- was an anomaly, a minor setback for an otherwise successful franchise coming off four division titles since 2012. They have eyes on competing for the National League East crown in 2019.

However, the Nats team that takes the field for Opening Day next season will almost certainly look a lot different than this year's team. Here are some of the key decisions and dates that will guide Washington's offseason:

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are gearing up for what will be, perhaps, the most important offseason in team history. They believe the 2018 season -- in which they finished 82-80 and missed the postseason -- was an anomaly, a minor setback for an otherwise successful franchise coming off four division titles since 2012. They have eyes on competing for the National League East crown in 2019.

However, the Nats team that takes the field for Opening Day next season will almost certainly look a lot different than this year's team. Here are some of the key decisions and dates that will guide Washington's offseason:

Who will be a free agent?
Bryce Harper will headline not just the Nats' class but will be one of the biggest prizes in all of baseball this offseason. He is joined by Matt Wieters, Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera and Jeremy Hellickson as players who are set to hit free agency. Remember, the Nats already traded away a few of their impending free agents during the season in Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Adams and Ryan Madson.

Video: WSH@COL: Harper talks last at-bat, uncertain future

• 5 pressing questions for Nats' offseason

Free agency begins the day after the 2018 World Series ends. Players can begin signing with other clubs five days after that date.

What about club options?
Sean Doolittle has a $6 million team option for 2019, which the Nationals will almost certainly pick up so he can return as closer and anchor their bullpen.

How will this affect payroll flexibility?
The Nationals are going to have some flexibility with their payroll next season, considering the large amount of money freed up by expiring contracts and the cost-saving moves they made before the season ended. They were over the luxury-tax threshold last season and will likely want to get under that number in 2019.

However, that should not stop them from having the freedom to pursue top free agents, especially Harper. If Washington does not sign Harper, it will be interesting to see how they utilize their financial freedom.

Will the Nats make any qualifying offers?
Harper seems likely to be the only player to receive one, which he will easily reject. If Harper signs with another team, the Nats will receive a compensation Draft pick after the fourth round has been completed (mid-100s).

• Nats have No. 17 pick in 2019 Draft

Who will be arbitration eligible?
The Nats have five arbitration-eligible players, headlined by Anthony Rendon, who is entering the final season of his contract. Tanner Roark, Michael A. Taylor, Joe Ross and Sammy Solis round out the rest of the group.

Video: MIA@WSH: Rendon skies a 2-run homer at 48 degrees

Are any of those players non-tender candidates?
Solis seems like a prime candidate at this point. He struggled mightily this season with a 6.41 ERA in 56 games, and his inability to retire left-handed hitters became a point of frustration. This is Solis' first season entering arbitration, so perhaps the two sides can work out a deal, but if not the organization will have a decision to make. The deadline is Nov. 30.

When are the Winter Meetings?
Expect an exciting Winter Meetings this season from Dec. 9-13 in Las Vegas -- Harper's hometown, where he will undoubtedly receive a ton of attention.

Injuries/rehabbing players
Howie Kendrick tore his Achilles tendon in April, and while his rehab will continue into the offseason, he should be ready to start the 2019 season on time.

What's on the wish list?
Undoubtedly, Harper's name will be at the top of the Nationals' wish list as they aim to keep the biggest star in team history as a cornerstone.

• Rizzo: Harper 'in our plans' for future

But in missing the postseason for the first time since 2015, several flaws were exposed. The Nats will be in the market for a new catcher, second baseman, at least one starting pitcher, and reliable setup men behind Doolittle. Expect the team to use multiple avenues to fill those holes, including free agency, trades and maybe relying on some of their in-house options to take a step forward.

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

Washington Nationals

30 top prospects in the AFL -- 1 from each team

MLB.com

The Arizona Fall League has long been a haven for the best prospects in all of baseball to come together and put the finishing touches on their development on the way to the big leagues. This year is no different, with 15 players from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list slated to play starting on Tuesday.

Seven clubs are sending their No. 1 prospect to the AFL, and each team is sending an impressive array of up-and-coming talent. Here is a list of the top prospect from each organization that fans can check out in AFL action next week.

The Arizona Fall League has long been a haven for the best prospects in all of baseball to come together and put the finishing touches on their development on the way to the big leagues. This year is no different, with 15 players from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list slated to play starting on Tuesday.

Seven clubs are sending their No. 1 prospect to the AFL, and each team is sending an impressive array of up-and-coming talent. Here is a list of the top prospect from each organization that fans can check out in AFL action next week.

AL East

Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (TOR No. 1; MLB No. 1)
Guerrero, the top prospect in this year's Fall League, batted .381 with 20 homers, 78 RBIs and more walks (42) than strikeouts (38) at 19 this season while ascending to Triple-A. He'll need to improve his defense at the hot corner to avoid a move down the positional spectrum, but it's a generational-type bat capable of shattering records this fall en route to a 2019 big league debut.

Orioles: Ryan McKenna, CF (BAL No. 12)
McKenna, 21, led all Orioles farmhands in average (.315), OBP (.410), hits (148) and runs scored (95) while splitting his season between Class A Advanced Frederick and Double-A Bowie. The 2015 fourth-rounder swung the bat particularly well in the Florida State League, hitting .377/.467/.556 with 97 hits over 67 games, and impressed with his center-field defense at both stops.

Rays: Lucius Fox, SS (TB No. 9)
The speedster Fox performed well in the Florida State League but scuffled during the final month of the season in Double-A after celebrating his 21st birthday. He ultimately posted a .692 OPS with 29 stolen bases across the two levels. In 2017, Fox finished with a .691 OPS and 30 steals.

Red Sox: Michael Chavis, 3B/1B (BOS No. 1; MLB No. 69)
After Chavis ranked third in the Minors with 68 extra-base hits and fifth with 31 homers last year, he missed the first 80 games of 2018 with a suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the offseason. When he returned, he batted .298/.391/.538 (mostly in Double-A) to continue to establish himself as one of the best power-hitting prospects in the game. His strong arm is an asset at third base.

Yankees: Estevan Florial, OF (NYY No. 2; MLB No. 45)
Florial played in Fall League a year ago, batting .286/.383/.414 for the Scottsdale Scorpions, and returns after losing half of the 2018 season to a right hamate injury. He has one of the highest ceilings in the league as a potential 30-30 player who can handle center field. Florial has well above-average raw power, speed and arm strength, though he'll have to prove he can make consistent contact at the plate.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

AL Central

Indians: Yu Chang, SS (CLE No. 6)
Spending his age-22 season with Triple-A Columbus, Chang produced a .256/.330/.411 line with 13 home runs while playing the bulk of his 127 games as a shortstop. He's improved defensively in every season and committed just nine errors in 94 games at short with Columbus. Now 23, Chang is back in Fall League this year after hitting .304 over 15 games with Mesa in 2017.

Royals: Khalil Lee, OF (KC No. 2)
Though Lee intrigued clubs as a high school left-hander with a low-90s fastball and a promising slider, the Royals preferred him as an outfielder and made him a full-time position player after taking him in 2016's third round. He has a chance to have solid or better tools across the board -- his arm strength is his best attribute -- and displays some of the best patience in Kansas City's system as well as the ability to fit anywhere in the outfield.

Tigers: Daz Cameron, OF (DET No. 8)
When the Tigers got Cameron from the Astros as part of the Justin Verlander trade late last season, he had turned in what looked like a breakout season. He kept it going in his first year with Detroit, playing across three levels and reaching Triple-A at age 21. Cameron was particularly strong during his Double-A stint with a .285/.367/.470 line to go along with 12 steals in 53 games.

Twins: Brent Rooker, OF (MIN No. 7)
After a stunning first summer of pro ball that saw Rooker reach the Florida State League and hit 18 homers in 62 games, any encore was bound to seem like a disappointment. Yes, the strikeout rate (26.4 pct) was a bit high, but he spent his first full season in Double-A and led the system in homers (22) and finished third in RBIs (79).

White Sox: Luis Robert, OF (CWS No. 4; MLB No. 44)
Shortly before international signing rules drastically changed, the White Sox spent $52 million ($26 million bonus, matching amount as a penalty for exceeding their bonus pool) in May 2017 to land Robert. Damaged ligaments in his left thumb limited him to 50 games this summer, but Robert's five-tool potential was obvious. He has electric bat speed, well above-average foot speed and the range and arm strength to play anywhere in the outfield.

AL West

A's: Eli White, INF (OAK No. 18)
White is coming off the season of his career as he hit .308/.388/.450 over 130 games with Double-A Midland. The 24-year-old, an 11th-round pick from the 2016 Draft, came up as a shortstop but added second and third base to his resume this season. In addition to the defensive versatility, White also showed some increased power this season as he hit nine homers, more than double his previous career high of four.

Angels: Jahmai Jones, OF (LAA No. 4)
Things didn't exactly go according to plan for Jones in his third full season of pro ball, as he saw his batting average and OPS drop considerably from 2017. On the plus side, his walk rate did go up, and he reached double digits in home runs (10) and steals (24) while reaching Double-A before his 21st birthday. Jones did all that while making the transition from the outfield to second base.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Astros: Forrest Whitley, RHP (HOU No. 2; MLB No. 8)
MLBPipeline's highest-rated pitching prospect, Whitley worked just 26 1/3 innings this season because of a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League drug program and oblique and lat injuries. When he did take the mound, Whitley continued to show the ability to miss bats with four pitches: a lively mid-90s fastball, a 12-to-6 curveball, a power slider and a fading changeup.

Mariners: Evan White, 1B (SEA No. 2)
The Mariners' 2017 first-rounder was a force during the second half as he slashed .320/.400/.512 with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 40 RBIs over his final 64 games in the California League. He's yet to hit for much power, but there's a lot to like in White's ability to hit for average and get on base in addition to his near-elite defense at first base.

Rangers: Julio Pablo Martinez, OF (TEX No. 2; MLB No. 56)
When the Rangers failed to sign Shohei Ohtani, they used their surplus international bonus pool money to sign Martinez for $2.8 million in March. He's a well above-average runner who plays a fine center field, and he has more power than a typical 174-pounder thanks to his bat speed and strong hands and wrists. Unlike most Fall League players, Martinez has yet to play in a full-season league after spending most of his pro debut at short-season Spokane.

NL East

Braves: Cristian Pache, OF (ATL No. 6; MLB No. 68)
After taking a big step forward offensively in the Florida State League (.285/.311/.431), Pache earned a promotion to Double-A at age 19 in August. He held his own, especially at the outset, but finished the season 1-for-22. One of the best defensive outfield prospects in the game, a stint in Fall League will help Pache hit the ground running back in Double-A in 2018.

Marlins: Monte Harrison, OF (MIA No. 1)
The tooled-up Harrison improved his stock as much as any player in last year's Fall League, showing a power-speed combo that ultimately led to him being acquired from the Brewers in the offseason Christian Yelich trade. It was on display again in the 22-year-old's first Double-A campaign, as Harrison totaled 19 homers and 28 steals but also struck out in 36.9 percent of his plate appearances.

Mets: Andres Gimenez, SS (NYM No. 1; MLB No. 55)
The Mets don't shy away from pushing their young players aggressively, and Gimenez has responded, reaching Double-A before he turned 20 and putting up his best offensive numbers (.281/.347/.409) stateside. The 2018 Futures Gamer is a tremendous defender at a premium position, and while he likely will never have a ton of pop, he's starting to grow into more extra-base thump at the plate.

Nationals: Carter Kieboom, SS (WAS No. 2; MLB No. 39)
Keiboom was plagued by injuries during his first full season but put it all together this year to reach the Double-A level at age 20. Playing in 123 games across two levels, the 2016 first-round pick hit .280/.357/.444 with 16 home runs and 31 doubles.

Phillies: Arquimedes Gamboa, SS (PHI No. 11; MLB No. 21)
The Phillies have pushed Gamboa aggressively since signing him for $900,000 out of Venezuela in 2014, sending him to high Class A as a 20-year-old this season. Though he batted just .214/.304/.279, he's still a quality defender with good patience and promising power potential for a middle infielder.

NL Central

Brewers: Keston Hiura, 2B (MIL No. 1; MLB No. 30)
The best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft lived up to his reputation in his first full season by hitting .291 with 13 homers and 33 doubles while reaching Double-A in his first full season. The Brewers already have the 22-year-old second baseman on the fast track to the Major Leagues, and the hope is that he'll get a jumpstart on the 2019 season with a productive campaign in Fall League. Hiura also stands to benefit from additional work at second base after lingering issues with his throwing elbow limited him to DH duties for the first month-plus this season.

Cardinals: Conner Greene, RHP (STL No. 27)
In his first season with the Cardinals after coming over from the Blue Jays in the Randal Grichuk trade, Greene was so-so as a starter in Double-A. He improved somewhat with a move to the bullpen and a bump up to Triple-A and has the power repertoire to excel in that role. Greene'll continue to work on the transition to relief in Fall League while hoping to improve his command (6.4 BB/9 in 2018).

Cubs: Nico Hoerner, SS (CHC No. 6)
The Cubs' first-round pick (24th overall) in June, Hoerner is the top 2018 Draft pick playing in Arizona. Though he played just 14 games in his pro debut before straining ligaments in his left elbow while diving for a ball, that was long enough to show why scouts considered him one of the best offensive-minded middle infielders available. Hoerner has exceptional hand-eye coordination, an advanced approach and developing power.

Pirates: Cole Tucker, SS (PIT No. 5)
A broken thumb kept Tucker, an Arizona native, from attending Fall League a year ago, but now he's ready to go. The tall and athletic shortstop tied for the system lead in stolen bases with 35, his third year of 25 or more steals. Tucker was swinging a hot bat at the end of the season, including hitting a pair of playoff homers for Double-A Altoona.

Reds: Taylor Trammell, OF (CIN No. 3; MLB No. 17)
The Futures Game MVP has all the tools needed to be an elite-level player and finished third in the organization with 25 steals despite missing some time with a concussion in August. Trammell has an advanced approach at the plate (career .372 OBP) and is still learning to tap into his power. The 21-year-old could see time in all three outfield spots this fall.

NL West

D-backs: Jon Duplantier, RHP (ARI No. 1; MLB No. 80)
Durability concerns coming out of Rice forced Duplantier down to the third round of the 2016 Draft, but he answered those questions with a huge first full season across two levels and a trip to the Futures Game. While he pitched well in 2018, biceps tendinitis forced him out for nearly two months, so the right-hander is making up for lost innings in Fall League.

Dodgers: Keibert Ruiz, C (LAD No. 2; MLB No. 39)
One of the game's best catching prospects, Ruiz held his own offensively this year as the second-youngest regular (age 19 for most of the season) in the Double-A Texas League. He's a switch-hitter with advanced feel for the barrel and developing power, with most of his home runs coming as a left-hander. Ruiz is improving defensively and could become a solid receiver with arm strength to match.

Giants: Heath Quinn, OF (SF No. 10)
The second-highest pick (third round) in Samford history behind only Phil Ervin, Quinn has a similar offensive profile but has had difficulty staying healthy in pro ball. Hamate and shoulder injuries affected his first full pro season, while a hamstring strain sidelined him for a month in 2018. He drives the ball to all fields and has deceptive athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, showing solid speed once he gets going.

Padres: Buddy Reed, OF (SD No. 13)
The 2016 second-rounder struggled in his first pro season but rebounded in 2018 to hit .271 with 48 extra-base hits and 51 steals in 122 games between two levels including Double-A. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder boasts some of the best tools in this year's Fall League, though questions remain about his hitting ability.

Rockies: Sam Hilliard, OF (COL No. 9)
First drafted by the Twins as a left-handed pitcher out of Crowder (Mo.) JC in 2014, Hilliard signed as an outfielder after a year at Wichita State in 2015. He's still somewhat raw at the plate, but Rockies officials once likened him to Larry Walker because he's a tooled-up right fielder who bats from the left side. Hilliard has plus raw power, speed and arm strength, giving him 20-20 potential and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield.

Source: Miller out as Nats' assistant GM

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will not renew the contract of assistant general manager Bob Miller, ending his three-year tenure with the team as one of president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo's most trusted advisors, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. The club has not confirmed the report, first reported by the Athletic, but the move comes as a surprise.

Miller was one of Washington's most prominent front office members, often accompanying the club on road trips, either with Rizzo or by himself to represent the front office. He advised Rizzo on several key duties including contract details, arbitration and rulebook details, and he was instrumental in the Nationals acquiring Trea Turner in 2014 as a player to be named later.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will not renew the contract of assistant general manager Bob Miller, ending his three-year tenure with the team as one of president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo's most trusted advisors, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. The club has not confirmed the report, first reported by the Athletic, but the move comes as a surprise.

Miller was one of Washington's most prominent front office members, often accompanying the club on road trips, either with Rizzo or by himself to represent the front office. He advised Rizzo on several key duties including contract details, arbitration and rulebook details, and he was instrumental in the Nationals acquiring Trea Turner in 2014 as a player to be named later.

The reason for Miller's departure was unclear Wednesday. The Athletic reported that the Nats plan on filling the vacant assistant position, a key hire that will impact what will be one of the most important offseasons in team history.

Rizzo and Miller's relationship dates back to their days with the D-backs, when the two helped overhaul Arizona's Minor League system and eventually helped the D-backs win the World Series in 2001. Recently, Miller decided to donate that ring to a charity auction in order to help pay for the leukemia treatment for fellow Nats assistant general manager Doug Harris.

After Rizzo and Miller left Arizona in 2006, they parted ways for a while while Miller spent nine seasons with the Reds. He was brought to Washington in the winter of '14.

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

Washington Nationals

5 pressing questions facing Nats in offseason

MLB.com

DENVER -- The Nationals believe 2018 was an anomaly, a minor blip for what has otherwise been one of the most successful regular-season teams in MLB over the past seven seasons. They will watch the postseason from home for the first time since 2015 after finishing the season with 82 wins, their fewest since 2011, and a second-place finish in the National League East.

Yet, Washington does not feel it needs a complete overhaul to get back track, even though the 2019 team could look a lot different than the one that started '18.

DENVER -- The Nationals believe 2018 was an anomaly, a minor blip for what has otherwise been one of the most successful regular-season teams in MLB over the past seven seasons. They will watch the postseason from home for the first time since 2015 after finishing the season with 82 wins, their fewest since 2011, and a second-place finish in the National League East.

Yet, Washington does not feel it needs a complete overhaul to get back track, even though the 2019 team could look a lot different than the one that started '18.

"We feel really good about the organization as a whole," general manager Mike Rizzo said. 'We like the core group of players we have under control on the roster. We like the talented players we have in our Minor Leagues. We like the process we go through to make decisions and get things done. I consider this year an anomaly. I think we're going to reboot next year, make some adjustments and compete for the National League East again."

In order to vie for the division title in 2019, the Nationals need to address some issues this winter. Here are five key questions facing Washington in the offseason:

1. Will the Nats find a way to re-sign Bryce Harper?
Harper's impending free agency has loomed over the entire season and has been a topic of speculation for years. Harper has spoken affectionately about his time in Washington, and Rizzo reiterated Sunday morning that Harper is a part of the team's plans. The question remains as to whether the two sides can work out a deal. If Harper returns, the Nationals are clearly capable of contention again and reports of their closing window are exaggerated. Without him, even with two stud rookie outfielders in Juan Soto and Victor Robles, the Nats will need to make major upgrades to replace Harper's production.

Video: WSH@COL: Harper talks last at-bat, uncertain future

2. How will the pursuit of Harper affect the rest of the offseason?
The commitment required to sign a player such as Harper, both in terms of salary and contract length, makes it the kind of decision everyone in the organization will have a hand in. Those pursuits tend to take focus away from the rest of the offseason, but Rizzo said he did not think Harper's status will have an impact on the rest of Washington's winter plans.

"I think we'll take a lot of parallel tracks on what we're doing in the offseason," Rizzo said.

The reality, however, is that if Harper re-signs, the Nationals suddenly have a logjam in the outfield that could free up one of the others for a trade in order to address other needs. And while the Nats should have plenty of payroll flexibility heading into 2019, if Harper does not return, they could use that money elsewhere.

3. What are they going to do at catcher?
Washington has received the worst production in baseball at catcher over the past two seasons, by far the team's most glaring hole and one it must certainly address this winter. Matt Wieters is also set to become a free agent, but the Nats also need a competent backup. Washington has been connected with Miami's J.T. Realmuto at several points during the past year and that link will almost certainly return this winter. If Harper re-signs, it could free up the Nats to use some of their prospects, mainly Robles, as a trade chip to fill that void.

Video: CIN@MIA: Realmuto laces an RBI double to left field

4. How will the Nats address their need at starting pitcher?
Pitching has been the Nationals' backbone during their run of success in the regular season, yet Washington has two vacant spots in its rotation for next year. Their young starters -- Joe Ross, Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez -- will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot, but they all pitched with mixed results this season. To ensure its rotation is a strength again Washington will need to add at least one starting pitcher to complement Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation.

5. Was 2018 really a blip, or a sign of things to come?
The Nationals' core is not getting any younger. Scherzer, Strasburg and Tanner Roark are each older than 30, and the team does not have many high-end, Major League-ready pitching prospects waiting in the Minors. Ryan Zimmerman is also older than 30 and had another injury-plagued season, and Anthony Rendon will be a free agent after 2019. While the Nats still have a few strong young players -- Trea Turner, Robles and Soto -- there were weaknesses exposed by this season that might become worse if not addressed this winter.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Ohtani, Soto named AL, NL Rookies of Month

MLB.com

Major League Baseball has selected Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani and Nationals outfielder Juan Soto -- a pair of serious contenders for this year's Rookie of the Year Awards -- as the American and National League's Rookies of the Month for September.

Ohtani and Soto submitted strong closing arguments for awards season, continuing to excel on teams who were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Ohtani began his September by having his team recommend he undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but responded with a pair of home runs that same evening and kept on motoring. The 24-year-old put together a .310/.371/.632 slash line with seven total homers and 18 RBIs to finish with a .564 slugging percentage that tied for sixth among all players with at least 350 plate appearances.

Major League Baseball has selected Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani and Nationals outfielder Juan Soto -- a pair of serious contenders for this year's Rookie of the Year Awards -- as the American and National League's Rookies of the Month for September.

Ohtani and Soto submitted strong closing arguments for awards season, continuing to excel on teams who were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Ohtani began his September by having his team recommend he undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but responded with a pair of home runs that same evening and kept on motoring. The 24-year-old put together a .310/.371/.632 slash line with seven total homers and 18 RBIs to finish with a .564 slugging percentage that tied for sixth among all players with at least 350 plate appearances.

Past winners: AL | NL

Video: September's AL Rookie of the Month is Shohei Ohtani

Meanwhile, Soto continued doing things that the baseball world has never seen a player his age do before. The 19-year-old stole three bases in a game against the Braves on Sept. 15, surpassing Rickey Henderson as the youngest player to do so. He also recorded his third multihomer game against the Phillies on Sept. 11 to set a new record for teenagers. Soto finished his rookie campaign with 22 homers, which tied teammate Bryce Harper for the second-most hit by a player before his 20th birthday. Overall, Soto hit .283/.383/.525 with six dingers and 20 RBIs to claim the September honors.

Video: Juan Soto is September's NL Rookie of the Month

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto

Each team's greatest postseason moment

The most memorable October event of the divisional era for every club
MLB.com

There are just four teams remaining in this year's postseason, but every fan, even those of the Mariners (the team with the longest postseason drought, now up to 17 seasons), can relate to what it feels like to be in the playoffs. The late nights, the constant tension, the stakes so high you can barely breathe ... and when something wonderful happens, the release and the pure, unbridled jubilation.

With that in mind, we take a look at the greatest postseason moments of the division era. Even if your team isn't a postseason team, you can remember your great October moments … and if it is, you can dream of maybe having another one this month that's even better.

There are just four teams remaining in this year's postseason, but every fan, even those of the Mariners (the team with the longest postseason drought, now up to 17 seasons), can relate to what it feels like to be in the playoffs. The late nights, the constant tension, the stakes so high you can barely breathe ... and when something wonderful happens, the release and the pure, unbridled jubilation.

With that in mind, we take a look at the greatest postseason moments of the division era. Even if your team isn't a postseason team, you can remember your great October moments … and if it is, you can dream of maybe having another one this month that's even better.

(For the purpose of this exercise, we are going back to 1969, which is the start of divisional play and the birth of the postseason as we know it.)

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Joe Carter's World Series walk-off, Oct. 23, 1993
The Blue Jays might not have that many postseason moments, but the greatness of this one more than makes up for that. Runner-up: Jose Bautista's ALDS Game 5 bat flip, Oct. 14, 2015.

Video: 93 WS, GM 6, PHI@TOR: Joe Carter touches them all

Orioles: Brooks Robinson's incredible play, 1970 World Series, Oct. 10, 1970
The best part about this play, which might be the greatest defensive play in World Series history, is how surprised the umpire looks. Even he can't believe what he just saw. Runner-up: David McNally's grand slam, World Series Game 3, Oct. 13, 1970.

Rays: First and only World Series trip clinched, Oct. 19, 2008
A decade ago, and still pretty jaw-dropping that all this happened. Runner-up: Grant Balfour strikes out Ken Griffey Jr. to clinch the first ALDS victory, Oct. 6, 2008.

Red Sox: First World Series title since 1918, Oct. 27, 2004
You might remember when this happened. (It's when lifelong Red Sox fans Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore got on television.) Runner-up: David Ortiz's ALCS grand slam vs. the Tigers sent a cop joyous in the bullpen and turns the series around on Oct. 13, 2013.

Video: Must C Classic: Red Sox win first WS since 1918

Yankees: Reggie Jackson's three homers in 1977 World Series
There's a reason no one else gets to be called "Mr. October." Runner-up: Mr. November -- Derek Jeter's World Series Game 5 walk-off homer on Nov. 1, 2001.

Video: 1977 WS Gm6: Reggie becomes Mr. October

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Eddie Murray's walk-off, Game 3, 1995 World Series, Oct. 24, 1995
It was Cleveland's first World Series game in 41 years, and ended with a Hall of Famer sending the crowd into euphorics. Runner-up: Rajai Davis' home run off Aroldis Chapman, 2016 World Series, Nov. 2, 2016

Royals: Royals win 2015 World Series, Nov. 1, 2015
It was a magical season and a magical World Series that just seems more improbable each year that goes by. Runner-up: The Don Denkinger play, and aftermath, 1985 World Series, Oct. 26, 1985.

Tigers: Magglio Ordonez sends Tigers to World Series, Oct. 14, 2006
The sounds that crowd makes the minute the bat meets the ball still gives you chills 12 years later. Runner-up: Kirk Gibson's Game 5 homer, 1984 World Series.

Twins: Kirby Puckett's Game 6 walk-off, 1991 World Series, Oct. 26, 1991
The original "We Will See You Tomorrow Night." Runner-up: Twins win 1987 World Series, their first in Minnesota, Oct. 25, 1987.

Video: Must C Classic: Puckett crushes a walk-off homer

White Sox: White Sox win 2005 World Series, Oct. 26, 2015
A game that was razor-tight, in a series that was much closer than anyone remembers. Runner-up: Scott Podsednik's Game 2 walk-off, Oct. 23, 2015.

AL WEST

Angels: Scott Spiezio's homer, Game 6, 2002 World Series, Oct. 26, 2002
The most Rally Monkey of all the Rally Monkey moments, his three-run clout cued the rally from a 5-0 deficit. Runner-up: Troy Percival gets last out to win 2002 World Series, Oct. 27, 2002.

Astros: Charlie Morton finishes the Dodgers off, 2017 World Series, Nov. 1, 2017
This was so long ago you might not remember it, but trust me, it was wonderful. Runner-up: Chris Burke sends everybody home after 18 innings, 2005 NLDS.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Morton induces groundout to close out WS

Athletics: Eck closes out the 1989 World Series, October 28, 1989
When in doubt, go with the Hall of Famer closing out a series for an all-time great team. Runner-up: Joe Rudi's amazing catch, World Series Game 2, Oct. 14, 1973.

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr. slides home to win the 1995 ALDS, Oct. 8, 1995
Basically, everything wonderful about the history of Mariners baseball, happening in one play. Runner-up: Mariners win most recent postseason series, 2001 ALDS over Cleveland.

Video: Griffey slides home to clinch the ALDS in 1995

Rangers: Neftali Feliz sends Texas to its first World Series, 2010 ALCS, Oct. 22, 2010
Over the hated Yankees, no less. Runner-up: Josh Hamilton's 2011 World Series Game 6 homer, which was this close to being one of the greatest baseball moments of recent memory.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Only World Series win in Atlanta, Oct. 28, 1995
It still seems amazing that this is the only one they ever got. Runner-up: The Sid Bream Slide, Oct. 14, 1992.

Marlins: Edgar Renteria's walk-off to win 1997 World Series, Oct. 26, 1997
Poor Cleveland. Runner-up: The Bartman play, and all that followed, 2003 NLCS.

Video: WS1997 Gm7: Fish win first WS on Renteria's walk-off

Mets: Mookie Wilson reaches base, Ray Knight scores, Mets win on Bill Buckner's error, Game 6, 1986 World Series, Oct. 25, 1986
A Mets comeback for the ages. Runner-up: Miracle Mets win 1969 World Series.

Video: 1986 World Series, Game 6: Red Sox at Mets

Nationals: Jayson Werth's 2012 NLDS walk-off, Oct. 11, 2012
After this, the Nats lost the series. But for the moment, it was great. Runner-up: Strasburg fans 12 to extend last year's NLDS.

Phillies: Brad Lidge gets the last out of a long game, 2008 World Series, Oct. 27, 2008
It took a couple of days for this game to actually finish, but no Phillies fan would ever complain. Runner-up: Roy Halladay's no-hitter, 2010 NLDS against Cincinnati.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Paul Molitor's inside-the-park homer, 1982 ALCS, Oct. 6, 1982
Runner-up: Nyjer Morgan's walk-off over Arizona in 2011 NLDS, particularly when called by Bob Uecker.

Cardinals: David Freese's triple to tie 2011 World Series Game 6, Oct. 27, 2011
The walk-off homer in the 11th gets more air time, but this was truly one of the most insane hits in World Series history. Runner-up: Ozzie Smith's 1985 NLCS homer off Tom Niedenfuer, the "Go Crazy, Folks" moment.

Video: WS2011 Gm6: Freese saves the Cards with a huge triple

Cubs: History in 2016
This was … not a tough call. Runner-up: Kyle Schwarber's shot atop the Wrigley scoreboard, Game 4, 2015 NLDS.

Video: Cubs win first World Series title in 108 years

Pirates: Willie Stargell's homer, 1979 World Series, Game 7, Oct. 17, 1979
And to do it in such beautiful threadsRunner-up: Pirates fans scare Johnny Cueto into dropping the ball, 2013 NL Wild Card Game at PNC Park.

Reds: Big Red Machine wins a Fall Classic for the ages, Oct. 22, 1975
It's only East Coast Bias that makes you think of Carlton Fisk when you think of this series. Runner-up: Reds sweep heavily favored A's in 1990 World Series.

NL WEST

D-backs: Luis Gonzalez off Mariano Rivera, 2001 World Series, Nov. 4, 2001
Ah, the perils of playing the infield in … Runner-up: Tony Womack's hit in 2001 NLDS.

Video: Must C Classic: Gonzalez walks off, wins World Series

Dodgers: Kirk Gibson pulls himself around the bases, 1988 World Series
Runner-up: Juan Uribe's 2013 go-ahead homer in Game 4 NLDS against Atlanta.

Video: Must C Classic: Gibson's 1988 WS walk-off home run

Giants: First World Series win in San Francisco, 2010 World Series, Nov. 1, 2010
Edgar Renteria hit .412 with two homers and six RBIs and the city got its first celebration. Runner-up: Madison Bumgarner's dominance in 2014 World Series.

Padres: Tony Gwynn's bad hop double, 1984 NLCS, Game 5, Oct. 7, 1984
The biggest hit of Gwynn's career was a bizarre one, but it got the job done. Runner-up: Padres finish off Braves to win 1998 NLCS.

Rockies: The Holliday slide, Oct. 1, 2007
He touched the plate … well, eventually. Maybe not technically the postseason either, but it came after Game 162. Runner-up: Rockies sweep D-backs to reach 2007 World Series.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Here's what happened in Thursday's AFL action

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Thursday:

Gameday: Surprise 10, Glendale 9 | Salt River 7, Scottsdale 6 | Mesa 10, Peoria 9

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Thursday:

Gameday: Surprise 10, Glendale 9 | Salt River 7, Scottsdale 6 | Mesa 10, Peoria 9

AL East

Blue Jays
Blue Jays No. 9 prospect Cavan Biggio went 0-for-2, but walked four times and drove in a run. Right-hander Zach Jackson recorded four strikeouts while allowing one hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief for Surprise.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

Orioles
Orioles No. 12 prospect Ryan McKenna went 2-for-4 with two runs and a walk out of the leadoff spot for Glendale. One of the hits was a double, McKenna's second extra-base hit in as many games after he tripled on Wednesday. Starter Chris Lee gave up one hit over two scoreless innings, while righty Jay Flaa worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames despite issuing four walks. Tyler Erwin also struggled with his control as he allowed one earned run on three walks and two hit batsmen.

Rays
Shortstop Lucius Fox, the Rays' No. 9 prospect, connected on a three-run home run in the eighth inning en route to his second straight two-hit game for Peoria. He scored two runs, walked once and stole a base, finishing 2-for-4. Joe McCarthy (No. 17) also reached base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. On the mound, right-hander Phoenix Sanders allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits, two walks and two balks in 1 1/3 innings, while Brandon Lawson took the loss after giving up a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.

Red Sox
Esteban Quiroz put Mesa on the board with a third-inning solo homer and reached base five times, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, three walks and an RBI. Mike Shawaryn, Boston's No. 9 prospect, tossed 1 1/3 hitless innings in relief.

Yankees
Steven Sensley plated a pair of runs with a double and finished 2-for-5 for Glendale. Hobie Harris posted 2 1/3 innings of one-run ball in relief, while Matt Wivinis recorded an out late in the game.

AL Central

Indians
Indians No. 6 prospect Yu Chang went 1-for-5 and logged his second start at third base for Glendale. Hard-throwing righty Dalbert Siri scuffled in relief, allowing three earned runs on three hits and a walk in one inning.

Royals
Royals No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two walks and a stolen base from the bottom of Surprise's lineup. Catcher Meibrys Viloria also made an impact with a 1-for-4 performance that included a two-run double and two walks. Grant Gavin recorded the save despite allowing an unearned run on one hit.

Tigers
Daniel Pinero and Daniel Woodrow each collected two hits, an RBI and a steal for Mesa. Eduardo Jimenez was sharp in relief, striking out a pair of hitters over two perfect frames, though Tigers No. 26 prospect Sandy Baez was hammered for five earned runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Twins
Twins No. 19 prospect Luke Raley went 0-for-4, but walked twice and scored a run for Salt River. Hector Lujan gave up three runs and retired only two hitters. Jaylin Davis went 2-for-5. Adam Bray picked up the win for Salt River with two hitless innings.

White Sox
White Sox No. 4 prospect Luis Robert (No. 44 overall) went 2-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored. He's hit safely in all three games so far for Glendale. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (No. 9) and shortstop Laz Rivera (No. 28) each drew a walk, but collectively finished 0-for-7. More »

AL West

A's
Outfielder Luis Barrera scored the walk-off run in the 10th for Mesa to cap a 1-for-4 game in which he scored two runs, walked twice and stole a base. Right-hander Calvin Coker retired all four batters he faced in relief, striking out one.

Angels
Brett Hanewich pitched around a pair of walks as he struck out the side in the 10th to earn his second win in as many outings for Mesa.

Astros
Astros No. 8 prospect J.B. Bukauskas threw 3 1/3 innings in a start for Scottsdale. The right-hander yielded one unearned run that scored on a passed ball, but was lights-out otherwise. He gave up three hits, struck out five and walked one. Abraham Toro-Hernandez (No. 21) went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Trent Thornton (No. 24) followed Bukauskas and gave up two runs on two hits. Ronnie Dawson went 0-for-3, but walked three times. Erasmo Pinales gave up two hits but also struck out two in a scoreless frame.

Mariners
Mariners No. 2 prospect Evan White has five RBIs through two games after his 1-for-3, three-RBI game for Peoria. Chris Mariscal also had a solid game, going 2-for-4 with two runs, while Matt Walker worked an inning in relief.

Rangers
Third baseman Charles Leblanc tallied two hits and two walks out of the No. 3 spot in Surprise's lineup. Starter Tai Tiedemann and reliever Joe Barlow both struggled as they allowed a combined eight earned runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Rangers No. 15 prospect C.D. Pelham tossed a scoreless inning to earn the win.

NL East

Braves
Braves No. 6 prospect Christian Pache (No. 66 overall) went 1-for-5, but also grounded into a pair of double plays, while outfielder Izzy Wilson scored a run from the No. 2 spot in Peoria's lineup. Jeremy Walker was effective as he completed three innings of one-run ball in his first AFL start. He was relieved by Braves No. 12 prospect Kyle Muller, who struck out a pair but allowed one run on two hits and two walks in one inning.

Marlins
Marlins No. 16 prospect Jordan Yamamoto was impressive in his start for Salt River. The right-hander racked up five strikeouts, including each of the final two batters he faced, over three scoreless innings. Kyle Keller followed Yamamoto and gave up two runs -- via a two-run homer -- in 1 1/3 innings. Chad Smith was the third Marlins farmhand to toe the rubber, and he cruised through 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He issued one walk and didn't give up a hit. Tommy Eveld put together a scoreless outing as he threw 1 1/3 innings. Brian Miller (No. 11) was inserted as a pinch-runner. Bryson Brigman (No. 26) went 1-for-4.

Mets
Mets No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso turned in a multi-hit effort for the third straight day for Scottsdale. After his 2-for-4 night, Alonso is 7-for-12 through three games. Joe Zanghi cruised through his one inning on the mound, yielding one hit in a scoreless frame. Andres Gimenez (No. 1) entered the game as a pinch-runner and drew a walk in his only plate appearance. Ali Sanchez (No. 25) went 0-for-1. Gerson Bautista gave up one hit over two scoreless innings, and Matt Blackham took the loss after he gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 11th.

Nationals
Nationals No. 2 prospect Carter Kieboom picked up a pair of hits, including a triple, and scored a run as part of his 2-for-6 night for Salt River. Daniel Johnson (No. 10) went 1-for-5.

Phillies
For Scottsdale, Darick Hall went 2-for-5, including a two-run homer, his first long ball of the Fall League.

NL Central

Brewers
Catcher Mario Feliciano, Milwaukee's No. 23 prospect, went 1-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and two walks in his first AFL game. Weston Wilson went 1-for-5 with an RBI double, but also committed two errors at third base.

Cardinals
Tommy Edman was a catalyst out of the leadoff spot for Surprise with his 2-for-4, three-walk performance. He also drove in a run, scored once and swiped a pair of bases. Jeremy Martinez also tallied a hit, while Lane Thomas reached base on a pair of walks.

Cubs
Cubs No. 29 prospect Trent Giambrone paced Mesa's offense as he went 4-for-6 with two RBIs and one run scored. 2018 first-rounder Nico Hoerner (No. 6) went 0-for-5, but picked up an RBI in his second Fall League contest. PJ Higgins didn't collect a hit, but drove in a run and walked twice. Starting pitcher Justin Steele (No. 8) was tagged for four earned runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings, while lefty Manuel Rondon permitted one walk over two hitless frames in relief.

Pirates
Pirates No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker drove in three runs and stole two bases in a 2-for-5 showing for Surprise. Bryan Reynolds (No. 8) also collected two hits, going 2-for-5 with two runs, while Will Craig (No. 16) scored a run after entering as a pinch-hitter.

Reds
Reds No. 3 prospect Taylor Trammell went 1-for-5 for Scottsdale. Shed Long (No. 8) picked up a hit as a pinch-hitter, while Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 23) went 2-for-4.

NL West

D-backs
D-backs No. 4 prospect Pavin Smith came through with an RBI single as part of a 1-for-4 night for Salt River. Daulton Varsho (No. 5) went 1-for-4 with an RBI and Drew Ellis (No. 9) went 1-for-5 with a two-run homer.

Dodgers
Dodgers No. 2 prospect Keibert Ruiz (No. 39 overall) went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI for Glendale. Errol Robinson (No. 20) also had a strong game, going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a stolen base, while designated hitter Cody Thomas contributed by scoring one run. On the mound, relievers Nolan Long and Andre Scrubb allowed a combined five runs (three earned) on three hits and three walks.

Giants
Giants No. 10 prospect Heath Quinn went 0-for-5 for Scottsdale. C.J. Hinojosa (No. 28) went 0-for-6. Chase Johnson gave up three runs on three hits in one inning. Matt Winn went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Padres
Padres