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Dozier eyes bounce-back season with Nats

Veteran eyes chance to make playoffs, test market again next year
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- With an influx of second basemen available this offseason and a number of teams seeking to improve at the position, Brian Dozier had a few offers from various suitors to weigh during free agency. Dozier said he had offers for more years and for more money than the one-year, $9 million contract he signed with the Nationals, but he believed D.C. was the "best fit."

That's because the Nationals presented him a team with a chance to make the postseason, had the blessing of Dozier's former teammates Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki -- now also with the Nats, but who shared a locker near Dozier's when the two were in Minnesota -- and Washington presented Dozier with a one-year deal to rebuild his market value.

WASHINGTON -- With an influx of second basemen available this offseason and a number of teams seeking to improve at the position, Brian Dozier had a few offers from various suitors to weigh during free agency. Dozier said he had offers for more years and for more money than the one-year, $9 million contract he signed with the Nationals, but he believed D.C. was the "best fit."

That's because the Nationals presented him a team with a chance to make the postseason, had the blessing of Dozier's former teammates Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki -- now also with the Nats, but who shared a locker near Dozier's when the two were in Minnesota -- and Washington presented Dozier with a one-year deal to rebuild his market value.

"Going into this year, personally, you kind of have a chip on your shoulder," Dozier said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "Just because you want to make sure you prove people wrong, I guess. I felt like I've done that throughout my career; I had to do that. Which is perfectly fine with me. I enjoy that."

Dozier, 31, was a perfect fit for the Nationals at second base as well. First, he gives them a temporary starter at second while Carter Kieboom, the club's No.2 prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline, has a chance to develop in the Minors. And second, Dozier has a high ceiling when projecting his production next season.

A former All-Star who received down-ballot MVP consideration in the two years prior, Dozier saw his projection drop drastically in 2018, when he posted a slash line of .215/.305/.391 for an 88 OPS+ with the Twins and Dodgers. That lack of production might have been the product of a bone bruise in his left knee from early in the season, although Dozier never went to the disabled list.

Dozier was adamant about not making excuses, but he admitted the knee injury hampered him and led him to some bad habits at the plate.

"My swing works when I use my front side, and my front side is really strong and driving into it," Dozier said. "And I felt like, at times, I didn't really do that like I wanted to."

Now, Dozier says he is 100 percent recovered from the injury, which healed with some rest after the World Series. He does not expect any lingering issues entering Spring Training.

It's why Dozier has already become a popular bounce-back candidate for next season. Steamer projects Dozier to be worth 2.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs, after posting just 0.8 WAR with the Twins and Dodgers last season, one of the biggest projected increases of any player with at least 400 plate appearances in 2018.

The results from Statcast™ agree that Dozier appeared compromised last season. As MLB.com's Mike Petriello pointed out earlier this offseason, Dozier's speed dipped last year, and although the decline began in 2017, he was usually still able to reach his peak speed around 29.0 ft/sec, but he was unable to do so late last season. Perhaps that could improve if the knee is better.

2015: 73rd percentile
2016: 71st percentile
2017: 54th percentile
2018: 47th percentile

Plate discipline
2015 9% 21%
2016 9% 20%
2017 11% 20%
2018 11% 20%
Season BB% K%

Another positive when projecting a Dozier bounce back is that his plate-discipline numbers remained steady despite last season's struggles.

He struck out 20 percent of the time and walked 11 percent of the time in 2018, identical to his numbers in '17. He swung at 22.5 percent of pitches out of the zone in '18, not a significant difference compared to the 23.4 percent from '17.

Where the difference lies is in his hard-hit rate, which dropped from 36 percent in 2016 and 35 percent to '17 to just 29 percent in '18.

Hard-Hit %
2015 31%
2016 36%
2017 35%
2018 29%
Season Hard-hit percentage

With the bone bruise preventing Dozier from driving through his front leg like he wanted, he could not hit the ball as hard as he once did.

If Dozier returns to his previous form, the Nationals may have found themselves a steal for 2019 with a player who makes an already dangerous lineup even stronger.

It will also be the perfect opportunity for Dozier to redo his contract year and show what he is really capable of.

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

Washington Nationals, Brian Dozier

Phils set to pounce on Bryce; will Nats counter?

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- A new team has reportedly surpassed the Nationals as the presumptive favorite to land Bryce Harper, and with just about a month to go before the start of Spring Training, the market for the 26-year-old former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner has taken yet another turn.

A meeting between Harper and the Phillies in his hometown of Las Vegas this past weekend went well, two sources told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. So well, in fact, that the Phils might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to Harper. USA Today's Bob Nightengale went even further, calling Philadelphia the "clear favorite" to land Harper after a five-hour meeting between the two sides Saturday in Vegas.

WASHINGTON -- A new team has reportedly surpassed the Nationals as the presumptive favorite to land Bryce Harper, and with just about a month to go before the start of Spring Training, the market for the 26-year-old former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner has taken yet another turn.

A meeting between Harper and the Phillies in his hometown of Las Vegas this past weekend went well, two sources told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. So well, in fact, that the Phils might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to Harper. USA Today's Bob Nightengale went even further, calling Philadelphia the "clear favorite" to land Harper after a five-hour meeting between the two sides Saturday in Vegas.

Although it remains unclear whether Harper has a formal contract offer in hand from the Phillies, this is a shift in perception from the previous weeks, after it appeared there was momentum toward Harper's eventual return to Washington.

Speculation had increased lately about a reunion in D.C., after a meeting between Nationals owner Ted Lerner, Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, just before Christmas. The meeting revealed that the Nats are more interested in bringing back Harper than they had previously let on publicly. Washington is still the only team believed to have made the superstar any sort of formal contract offer, the 10-year, $300 million contract extended at the end of the 2018 regular season, according to the Washington Post.

Video: IT debates if Bryce Harper can get a 12-year contract

Still, the market for Harper appears to be more clear now than it has been in weeks. The Phillies and Nationals have presented clear interest in signing Harper and are the two presumed frontrunners, while the White Sox still loom in the background.

Both Philadelphia and Chicago have also had meetings with Machado, the market's other free-agent slugger. The low interest league-wide for these two superstars has made the Phillies optimistic that they will land one of the two, just as it caused the Nationals to jump back into the mix for Harper, after cloaking interest in their homegrown star for much of the offseason.

Instead of waiting around for Harper's decision, the Nationals began to address the rest of their offseason checklist. They added Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki at catcher, relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough to the bullpen, revamped their starting rotation with Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez and then re-signed Matt Adams to improve their bench and made Brian Dozier their new second baseman. The front office built a roster capable of returning to the top of the NL East division, regardless of Harper's future.

Video: Feinsand on Nats having the best offseason so far

With Harper continuing to linger on the market, however, the Nationals should not be counted out. Harper's relationship with the organization, as well as Rizzo and the Lerner family, is strong. A few front office members have wondered if eventually ownership will find a way to make it work to keep Harper in D.C. long term, even if doing so would almost certainly put the Nats over the luxury tax threshold again.

After signing Dozier to a one-year, $9 million deal, the Nationals' projected payroll for 2019 is at about $195 million, according to estimates from Cot's Baseball Contracts, giving them roughly $11 million to work with before they exceed the competitive-balance tax threshold of $206 million. Last season, the Nats exceeded the luxury tax for the second consecutive year and it cost them $2.4 million. The club would prefer to remain under the threshold this season, and signing Harper would perhaps be the only reason it would blow past it. Because the Nats want to leave room for potential incentives and a midseason acquisition, adding Harper might be the only major remaining move the Nationals could make this winter.

This Nats roster should be capable of contending within a crowded NL East without Harper. With him? They would become instant World Series contenders in the NL. They just may have to outbid a division rival to land him.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Each team's lineup if season started today

MLB.com

We're less than a month away from Spring Training, so it's a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup will look like, or at least what it would look like if the season started today. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might shake out.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

We're less than a month away from Spring Training, so it's a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup will look like, or at least what it would look like if the season started today. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might shake out.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
Initially, the Jays will be looking for a healthy, bounce-back year from second baseman Devon Travis and continued growth from shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and left fielder Teoscar Hernandez to support a lineup anchored by first baseman Justin Smoak, right fielder Randal Grichuk and designated hitter Kendrys Morales. But at some point soon, the real fun begins when the next wave of Jays stars reach Toronto -- outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., infielder Bo Bichette and catcher Danny Jansen are all expected to arrive in 2019. Jansen likely will start the season with the Jays, and the other two won't be far behind. -- Gregor Chisholm

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Devon Travis, 2B
2. Justin Smoak, 1B
3. Kendrys Morales, DH
4. Randal Grichuk, RF
5. Teoscar Hernandez, LF
6. Kevin Pillar, CF
7. Brandon Drury, 3B
8. Danny Jansen, C
9. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., SS

Video: Bo Bichette discusses his goals for 2019, Vlad Jr.

Orioles
For years, the Orioles were anchored by a core group of positions players who Buck Showalter would regularly arrange into one of baseball's most powerful offensive units. Now with the O's fully in rebuilding mode, the only guarantee about new manager Brandon Hyde's first lineup is that it will look very different.

Seven of the nine members of last year's Opening Day lineup are out of the organization, but the fact that dozens of free agents remain on the market gives the Orioles ample time to bolster a roster that, as of now, projects to be only a fraction as productive as it was a year ago. The current group could receive a boost if Mark Trumbo recovers from offseason knee surgery in time for late March. Top prospects Yusniel Diaz or Ryan Mountcastle could also play their way into the mix, should they impress enough in camp to crack the club's Opening Day roster. -- Joe Trezza

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Cedric Mullins, CF
2. Jonathan Villar, 2B
3. Trey Mancini, DH
4. Chris Davis, 1B
5. DJ Stewart, RF
6. Renato Nunez, 3B
7. Joey Rickard, LF
8. Richie Martin, SS
9. Chance Sisco, C

Rays
Due to the team's versatility, manager Kevin Cash will have a lot of quality options with his lineup card. Mallex Smith, who had a .357 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot in 2018, was traded to Seattle in November, which creates a hole at the top of the lineup for the Rays. With Smith gone, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier could be the first in line to get a crack at the leadoff spot. Kiermaier struggled at the plate to begin last season and then was sidelined for two months with a torn ligament in his right thumb. The 28-year-old outfielder finished the season with a .217 batting average, but had an encouraging end to his season, posting a .306/.371/.597 slash line in September.

In this lineup, Tommy Pham would hit third with designated hitter Ji-Man Choi hitting cleanup. In just 25 at-bats in the cleanup role last season, Choi posted a .450/.520/.850 slash line. Willy Adames and Yandy Diaz provide a good combination of contact and power in the fifth and sixth spots, while Meadows, who hit .250 in 10 games with the Rays last season, provides some power from the left-hand side in the seventh slot. Mike Zunino and Joey Wendle (or Daniel Robertson, depending on the pitcher) would round out the team's lineup. -- Juan Toribio

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Tommy Pham, LF
4. Ji-Man Choi, DH
5. Willy Adames, SS
6. Yandy Diaz, 1B
7. Austin Meadows, RF
8. Mike Zunino, C
9. Joey Wendle, 2B

Red Sox
The World Series champs are in the enviable position of returning their entire allotment of position players, except for Ian Kinsler. But there's good news on that front also, as the hope is that second baseman and veteran leader Dustin Pedroia can return to the lineup after missing all but three games last season due to a left knee injury.

This lineup is deep and balanced, with power and speed, and has the ability to put the ball in play consistently. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez should again present major headaches to the opposition on a near nightly basis. Andrew Benintendi and Betts will be flip-flopped from their spots from a year ago, with the hope it will create more RBI opportunities for the latter. This could be a big growth year for the 22-year-old Rafael Devers. -- Ian Browne

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
2. Mookie Betts, RF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
7. Rafael Devers, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Christian Vazquez, C

Yankees
One year after the Yankees became the first team to have a dozen players reach double digits in the home run department, the Bronx Bombers again appear primed to boast impressive power, even without adding a megastar like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The projected order skews heavily toward right-handed bats, which is odd considering Yankee Stadium's configuration, but most have the ability to power the ball to right-center field. Troy Tulowitzki will have first crack at shortstop, but DJ LeMahieu provides a capable option at second base, shortstop and third base. -- Bryan Hoch

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Aaron Hicks, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Gary Sanchez, C
6. Miguel Andujar, 3B
7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
8. Luke Voit, 1B
9. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Video: MLB Tonight on how LeMahieu fits in with Yankees

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians
The Indians' lineup will feature plenty of new names in 2019, but one familiar face will be back with the Tribe. After spending last season with the Phillies, Carlos Santana was traded to the Mariners briefly before coming back home to Cleveland in exchange for Edwin Encarnacion.

Despite the team's high turnover rate, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will return to the Indians' infield, providing leadership to the young roster. Both Ramirez and Lindor are coming off standout seasons, placing third and sixth in American League MVP voting, respectively. -- Mandy Bell

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Francisco Lindor, SS
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Jose Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Santana, DH
5. Jake Bauers, 1B
6. Tyler Naquin, RF
7. Leonys Martin, CF
8. Jordan Luplow, LF
9. Roberto Perez, C

Video: Jose Ramirez is the No. 1 third baseman right now

Royals
Of course, the big question regarding the batting order is where manager Ned Yost will fit in speedster Billy Hamilton, who primarily hit toward the bottom of the order while with the Reds. Yost could go for the speed trifecta at 9-1-2 with Hamilton hitting ninth, and then Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi at the top. -- Jeffrey Flanagan

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Whit Merrifield, 2B
2. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
3. Alex Gordon, LF
4. Jorge Soler, DH
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Ryan O'Hearn,1B
7. Hunter Dozier, 3B
8. Jorge Bonifacio, RF
9. Billy Hamilton, CF

Tigers
The Tigers have work to do before they can put together a lineup of young talent to go with their promising pitching prospects. But their 2019 lineup shows some promise. With Jeimer Candelario at third base and Christin Stewart likely in left field, Detroit has a pair of young run producers. On the flip side, the Tigers get veteran Miguel Cabrera back after he missed most of last season due to biceps surgery. If Nicholas Castellanos isn't traded, Detroit has a decent core to the batting order if it can identify another run producer for the fifth spot. -- Jason Beck

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
2. Christin Stewart, LF
3. Nick Castellanos, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Niko Goodrum, 2B
6. John Hicks, DH
7. Grayson Greiner, C
8. JaCoby Jones, CF
9. Jordy Mercer, SS

Twins:
Minnesota finished 23rd in the Majors with 166 homers in 2018, but added a trio of right-handed sluggers with 30-homer power -- C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz -- to address the power concerns and fill the needs at first base, second base and designated hitter on manager Rocco Baldelli's first Twins roster. -- Do-Hyoung Park

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jorge Polanco, SS
2. Eddie Rosario, LF
3. Miguel Sano, 3B
4. Nelson Cruz, DH
5. C.J. Cron, 1B
6. Max Kepler, RF
7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
8. Jason Castro, C
9. Byron Buxton, CF

White Sox
This lineup on Jan. 15 could change by the end of the month or the end of the week or even the end of the day, as the White Sox continue their strong pursuit of premium free agent infielder Machado and possibly even premium free agent outfielder Harper. If they get one, let alone fulfill the long shot of reaching a deal with both, their lineup immediately looks quite different. Even if they miss out on both, the White Sox still have made significant changes to balance their lineup with the additions of left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay. They also brought in catcher James McCann, who probably won't split time with Welington Castillo, but will get more than backup playing time. -- Scott Merkin

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Yoan Moncada, 2B
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Yonder Alonso, DH
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. Daniel Palka, LF
7. Tim Anderson, SS
8. Yolmer Sanchez, 3B
9. Adam Engel, CF

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Angels
The Angels are expected to be without designated hitter Shohei Ohtani to begin the season, as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, which means Albert Pujols will open the year as DH. Manager Brad Ausmus said he'd like to see Mike Trout hit No. 2 in the lineup, while Zack Cozart served as leadoff hitter early last season until suffering a season-ending labrum tear in his left shoulder. There remains a competition in the infield among David Fletcher, Taylor Ward and Tommy La Stella and it'll be determined in Spring Training. -- Rhett Bollinger

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Zack Cozart, 3B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Justin Bour, 1B
5. Albert Pujols, DH
6. Andrelton Simmons, SS
7. Kole Calhoun, RF
8. David Fletcher, 2B
9. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Astros
The Astros made a huge addition to their lineup last month when they signed free agent outfielder Michael Brantley, who brings a much-needed presence from the left side of the plate while being difficult to strike out. The core of Houston's powerful lineup is all right-handed --Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer -- and the addition of Brantley gives them a top five in the lineup that's perhaps the deepest in baseball, when healthy. -- Brian McTaggart

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Michael Brantley, LF
6. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7. Josh Reddick, RF
8. Tyler White, DH
9. Robinson Chirinos, C

Video: AJ Hinch on Brantley's veteran approach, preparation

Athletics 
One of baseball's most potent offenses will feature many of the same bats that helped the A's into the postseason last year. Homer-happy Khris Davis isn't the only power hitter residing in this lineup: Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien also routinely hit the ball out of the park, and they're flanked by productive complementary pieces, including on-base machine Nick Martini and the dynamic Ramon Laureano. -- Jane Lee

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Nick Martini, LF
2. Matt Chapman, 3B
3. Matt Olson, 1B
4. Khris Davis, DH
5. Stephen Piscotty, RF
6. Jurickson Profar, 2B
7. Ramon Laureano, CF
8. Marcus Semien, SS
9. Chris Herrmann, C

Mariners
Only four of last season's Opening Day position starters are still on the roster, though it's likely that a fifth -- Ichiro Suzuki -- will be added before the season begins. But gone are Seattle stalwarts Robinson Cano, Cruz and Jean Segura, who batted in the 2-3-4 spots in the lineup in last year's 2-1 Opening Day win over the Indians. Also gone is 2018 Opening Day catcher Mike Marjama, who was filling in for an injured Zunino, who has also been traded.

That leaves returning starters Dee Gordon -- who is shifting from center field to second base -- along with right fielder Mitch Haniger, third baseman Kyle Seager and first baseman Ryon Healy. -- Greg Johns

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Mallex Smith, CF
2. Dee Gordon, 2B
3. Mitch Haniger, RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5. Kyle Seager, 3B
6. Domingo Santana, LF
7. Ryon Healy, 1B
8. Omar Narvaez, C
9. Tim Beckham, SS

Rangers
The Rangers are loaded with young left-handed power with Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Ronald Guzman, but are still susceptible to the strikeout. They could also use more help from the right side and depth at both catcher and third base. They also need a full and healthy season from Delino DeShields in the leadoff spot. -- T.R. Sullivan

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Delino DeShields, CF
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
4. Nomar Mazara, RF
5. Joey Gallo, LF
6. Rougned Odor 2B
7. Ronald Guzman 1B
8. Patrick Wisdom 3B
9. Jeff Mathis C

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
The Braves feel good about having three MVP candidates at the top of their lineup, but uncertainty about who will be the third outfielder leaves a glaring hole in the cleanup spot. If an outfielder is not acquired and Adam Duvall is given a starting spot, manager Brian Snitker could address the top-heavy nature of his lineup by moving Ender Inciarte to the leadoff spot and dropping either Ronald Acuna Jr. or Josh Donaldson to the fourth spot. The offense's success will be influenced by Ozzie Albies' adjustments against left-handers and Dansby Swanson's attempt to expand his plate coverage. -- Mark Bowman

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. TBD
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Ozzie Albies, 2B
7. Ender Inciarte, CF
8. Dansby Swanson, SS

Marlins
The Marlins continue to explore the market for a left-handed power bat to play either first base or a corner outfield spot, and there is the on-going saga of whether All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto will be traded or not. With so much up in the air, projecting the Marlins' Opening Spring Training lineup remains highly speculative. But based on how the roster is constructed as of now, there are a number of directions the organization can go. A year ago, Lewis Brinson was the Opening Day leadoff hitter, and unless a more traditional table-setter is added, Brinson again could get a look at the top of the order, in hopes of getting him on track. -- Joe Frisaro

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Lewis Brinson, CF
2. J.T. Realmuto, C
3. Starlin Castro, 2B
4. Brian Anderson, RF
5. Peter O'Brien, 1B
6. Martin Prado, 3B
7. Austin Dean, LF
8. JT Riddle / Miguel Rojas SS

Mets
The addition of Jed Lowrie gives the Mets an obvious No. 2 hitter, though they'll skew left-handed at the top of the order for as long as Yoenis Cespedes remains sidelined. A greater issue is where Lowrie fits on defense; given his lack of experience at first base, he may push Todd Frazier to that position early in the season. -- Anthony DiComo

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Brandon Nimmo, RF
2. Jed Lowrie, 3B
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Wilson Ramos C
5. Michael Conforto, LF
6. Todd Frazier, 1B
7. Juan Lagares, CF
8. Amed Rosario, SS

Video: Jon Heyman discusses the Jed Lowrie signing for Mets

Nationals
There is still so much speculation about whether Harper will ultimately wind up back in the middle of this batting order, but the Nationals feel confident in this lineup even without their homegrown star at the center. Thanks to a boost at catcher, a new second baseman and the infusion of rookie Victor Robles, this new-look Nats lineup has a chance to remain one of the most productive in the National League. -- Jamal Collier

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Adam Eaton, RF
2. Trea Turner, SS
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B
4. Juan Soto, LF
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
6. Brian Dozier, 2B
7. Victor Robles, CF
8. Yan Gomes / Kurt Suzuki, C

Phillies 
The Phillies have upgraded their lineup from 2018, with the additions of outfielder Andrew McCutchen and shorstop Segura. But they hope to make one more major move before Opening Day. If the Phillies sign Harper or Machado to a multiyear contract, it changes everything. -- Todd Zolecki

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Jean Segura, SS
3. Andrew McCutchen, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Nick Williams, RF
8. Jorge Alfaro, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers
The Brewers are returning the bulk of the roster that played to within one game of the World Series in 2018, with second base representing the only real hole after the team signed catcher Yasmani Grandal. Right now, a Hernan Perez/Cory Spangenberg platoon is possible, though general manager David Stearns is likely to either sign or trade for a player to fill that position, or find a third baseman and move Travis Shaw to second. -- Adam McCalvy

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Travis Shaw, 3B
5. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
6. Yasmani Grandal, C
7. Hernan Perez / Cory Spangenberg, 2B
8. Orlando Arcia, SS

Video: MLB Now analyzes Grandal's deal with the Brewers

Cardinals
The top of the Cardinals' order became instantly more formidable with the December acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. He'll likely hit behind one of the best leadoff hitters in the game and ahead of the club's two biggest power threats. With an element of speed at the bottom of the order, the Cardinals' lineup is positioned to be more dynamic than it was a year ago. -- Jenifer Langosch

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Paul DeJong, SS
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. Dexter Fowler, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Kolten Wong, 2B
8. Harrison Bader, CF

Cubs
Cubs manager Joe Maddon cycled through 152 lineup variations in 2018, so this alignment is definitely written in pencil. At least 10 players appeared in each lineup spot for Chicago, which featured one of MLB's top offenses until a two-month slump to end last season. The Cubs are banking on a return to health from slugger Kris Bryant, among other things, to help this group get back on track in '19. -- Jordan Bastian

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Javier Baez, SS
5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
6. Willson Contreras, C
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Albert Almora Jr., CF

Pirates
The Pirates haven't officially settled on a shortstop, and it's unclear how they'll use Colin Moran and Jung Ho Kang at third base. The look of their lineup will also change when right fielder Gregory Polanco, their most productive hitter last season, comes off the disabled list. Manager Clint Hurdle will look for the right configuration, but it's fair to assume that Adam Frazier, Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson will be involved atop the order with Josh Bell getting another shot in the cleanup spot. -- Adam Berry

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Adam Frazier, 2B
2. Starling Marte, CF
3. Corey Dickerson, LF
4. Josh Bell, 1B
5. Francisco Cervelli, C
6. Colin Moran/Jung Ho Kang, 3B
7. Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
8. Erik Gonzalez / Kevin Newman, SS

Reds
The front office has signaled more improvements to the club are coming in the final month before Spring Training. There is still a need for a regular center fielder and the team has an overload of corner outfielders that will need to be sorted out. A fluid situation, it does not account for how the Reds will utilize another acquisition in corner outfielder Matt Kemp. And then there is Nick Senzel. The organization's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will be competing for the opening in center field but could also be a lineup regular in a utility role, playing up to five positions. -- Mark Sheldon

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jesse Winker, LF
2. Jose Peraza, SS
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
5. Scooter Gennett, 2B
6. Yasiel Puig, RF
7. Scott Schebler, CF
8. Tucker Barnhart, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs
The D-backs still have work to do in order to complete their lineup for Opening Day with one big piece still unknown. They are looking to either move Ketel Marte to center and acquire a second baseman or acquire a center fielder and leave Marte at second. How that plays out could will reshape this lineup. One thing to note about the catching spot: while Carson Kelly figures to get a lot of time behind the plate, the D-backs also like to rotate their catchers, so Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy will also play. -- Steve Gilbert

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ketel Marte, 2B
2. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
3. David Peralta, LF
4. Steven Souza Jr., RF
5. Jake Lamb, 1B
6. Nick Ahmed, SS
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Jarrod Dyson, CF

Dodgers
There's plenty of time left for trades and free-agent signings and a host of mutations depending on matchups and platoons. Russell Martin figures to challenge Austin Barnes for the starting catching job. All that aside, what does the Dodgers' starting lineup for 2019 look like today? Some variation of this. -- Ken Gurnick

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Chris Taylor, 2B
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, CF
5. Max Muncy, 1B
6. Enrique Hernandez, RF
7. Joc Pederson, LF
8. Austin Barnes, C

Giants
The Giants' current projected lineup is comprised of holdovers from 2018, but they are hoping to add a couple of new faces to the starting outfield by Opening Day to help boost an offense that struggled to consistently score runs last year. -- Maria Guardado

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Steven Duggar, CF
2. Joe Panik, 2B
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Brandon Belt, 1B
5. Evan Longoria, 3B
6. Brandon Crawford, SS
7. Mac Williamson, RF
8. Chris Shaw, LF

Padres
Franmil Reyes, Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe are currently fighting for two corner outfield spots (and, presumably, the No. 4 and 5 spots in the lineup). The Padres have a clear logjam in their outfield, and it's possible one of those three big boppers is dealt before the season. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that Ty France actually starts on Opening Day. General manager A.J. Preller remains in search of third-base help, and it's a near certainty he adds someone before the start of camp. -- AJ Cassavell

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Manuel Margot, CF
2. Luis Urias, SS
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Franmil Reyes, RF
5. Wil Myers, LF
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Austin Hedges, C
8. Ty France, 3B

Rockies
The addition of Daniel Murphy puts some left-handed pop in the lineup behind home run threats Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. The lineup still could use one more right-handed threat. Another idea could be to lead off with David Dahl, followed by Story, Charlie Blackmon and Arenado to separate the left- and right-handed hitters through the early portion. -- Thomas Harding

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Charlie Blackmon, LF
2. David Dahl, RF
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Trevor Story, SS
5. Daniel Murphy, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, CF
7. Ryan McMahon, 2B
8. Chris Iannetta, C

Video: Blackmon on adding Murphy, Arenado's importance

Nats sign Dozier to 1-year, $9 million deal

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed free-agent second baseman Brian Dozier to a one-year, $9 million contract and designated infielder Matt Reynolds for assignment on Sunday.

A portion of Dozier's salary will also be deferred, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed free-agent second baseman Brian Dozier to a one-year, $9 million contract and designated infielder Matt Reynolds for assignment on Sunday.

A portion of Dozier's salary will also be deferred, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

At the start of the offseason, the Nationals downplayed the need to improve at second base, saying that they would be comfortable starting the season with the options already on their roster. That sentiment changed with an influx of options available both in free agency and on the trade market at the position. Always seeking value, the Nats knew they might be able to nab a quality player at a reasonable price.

The Nationals eventually closed in on Dozier, 31, who is coming off a down year with the Dodgers and Twins but has the kind of raw power and veteran presence the Nats value. Through seven seasons in the Majors, Dozier has averaged 28 home runs, 16 stolen bases and a 108 OPS+, making the All-Star team in 2015 and winning an American League Gold Glove Award in '17. Despite that award, Dozier has had his share of defensive issues in the past -- minus-8 Defensive Runs Saved in '18 and minus-4 in '17 -- but he should still provide an enormous upgrade from Daniel Murphy at second.

If Dozier can bounce back offensively from a difficult 2018, when he posted a slash line of .215/.305/.391 with 21 home runs and an 0.8 Fangraphs WAR, the Nationals could be looking at a steal.

Video: Dozier reportedly agrees to 1-year deal with Nats

Dozier also provides a short-term solution at second base until the Nationals believe Carter Kieboom, their No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is ready to take over. Kieboom, whose natural position is shortstop, began playing second base during the Arizona Fall League this offseason, and he is expected to continue getting reps there this season. If his development continues as expected, Kieboom could reach the Majors as early as this summer, or he could be ready to take over as the starting second baseman in 2020, but Washington always prefers a stopgap solution in the meantime.

The addition of Dozier also opens up some positional flexibility for the Nationals this season, as they can shift Howie Kendrick to the bench to ease his workload coming off a torn right Achilles tendon and allow him to fill the veteran-utility-player role for which they acquired him. Wilmer Difo will round out the bench as a utility infielder.

The move also nearly completes a busy offseason for the Nationals. They have added two new catchers in Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki, a pair of relievers in Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough and starters in Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. Plus, they re-signed Matt Adams as their backup first baseman, and now Dozier has been added to the revamped 2019 roster. The only remaining question for the Nats is the future of Bryce Harper, their homegrown superstar who lingers on the free-agent market.

The Nationals are still one of the teams interested in signing Harper to a mega-deal, but signing Dozier on Thursday was perhaps another example of the club covering its bases. Dozier's power should help make up for the lost pop in the lineup if Harper signs elsewhere, once again putting the Nats in a strong position to be successful no matter the ending of the Harper saga.

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

Washington Nationals, Brian Dozier

Position by position: These are the biggest upgrades

MLB.com

With only about a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, plenty of potential contenders still have needs to address, and some high-profile free agents remain available.

Still, as quiet as the offseason has seemed at times, there have been some important additions. With that in mind, here is a position-by-position look at which teams have done the most to upgrade weak spots, taking into account both their 2018 production (or lack thereof) and '19 outlook:

With only about a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, plenty of potential contenders still have needs to address, and some high-profile free agents remain available.

Still, as quiet as the offseason has seemed at times, there have been some important additions. With that in mind, here is a position-by-position look at which teams have done the most to upgrade weak spots, taking into account both their 2018 production (or lack thereof) and '19 outlook:

• 10 teams with unfinished Hot Stove business

Catcher: Brewers
The Mets and Nationals certainly deserve mention here as well, after New York landed Wilson Ramos and Washington brought in a combo of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. But Milwaukee sits on top because Yasmani Grandal -- who agreed to a one-year deal Thursday -- has easily the highest ceiling, as a true two-way contributor, in that group. His unfortunate postseason scuffles aside, Grandal has been an above-average hitter in every season of his career (117 wRC+) and is one of the game's top pitch framers. Given that Brewers catchers (mainly Manny Pina and Erik Kratz) hit .237/.294/.363 last year, Grandal provides far more upside.

Video: Brewers, Grandal make one-year deal official

First base: Rockies
In 2018, Colorado first basemen (primarily Ian Desmond) finished 28th in the Majors in wRC+ (80) and 29th in FanGraphs' wins above replacement (-1.2), even as the team battled its way into the postseason. Signing veteran Daniel Murphy to a two-year contract was a bit of a risk, given that the left-handed batter will be 34 next season and struggled early in '18 as he came back from a knee injury. But Murphy was one of the game's top hitters from 2016-17 and recovered to slash .315/.346/.498 after the All-Star break. He should be a lot more comfortable defensively after moving from second to first.

Second base: Nationals
It's been a productive offseason for Washington, which has addressed several areas of need -- even with the Bryce Harper situation unresolved. One of the those was the keystone. Last year, Murphy's injury, slow start, and defensive shortcomings limited the club's production at second. Howie Kendrick was lost for the season in May, and Wilmer Difo posted a .650 OPS. Now the Nats have made a low-risk rebound bet by reaching a one-year agreement with Brian Dozier. One of MLB's best second basemen from 2013-17, Dozier slumped last year while fighting a knee issue. Steamer projects a solid 2.6 WAR in '19, and a fully healthy Dozier could contribute with the bat and glove while allowing Kendrick and Difo to come off the bench.

Video: Collier on Dozier's reported deal with Nationals

Third base: Braves
This one may change when we learn where Manny Machado winds up. In the meantime, this selection admittedly doesn't quite fit here, because the hot corner actually was a highly productive spot for the 2018 Braves. Behind a strong year from Johan Camargo, the National League East champs got a 116 wRC+ and 4.3 WAR from their third basemen. With that said, free-agent acquisition Josh Donaldson has the much more robust track record and the much more optimistic projections, with the upside of one of the league's elite third basemen. Meanwhile, Camargo now can see time around the diamond.

Shortstop: Phillies
The baseball world waits to see whether Philly lands one of the offseason's big fish -- Harper or Machado. In the meantime, pulling off a trade with the Mariners for shortstop Jean Segura was a meaningful upgrade for a club looking to take the next step. The 2018 Phillies ranked 27th in wRC+ (75) and 28th in WAR (0.8) from shortstop, with youngsters J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery struggling mightily with the bat before veteran Asdrubal Cabrera arrived at the Trade Deadline. Now Cabrera is a free agent, Crawford is in Seattle and Kingery can move around the field, while Segura stabilizes short with an above-average bat and solid defense.

Outfield: Mariners
It might seem strange to have the Mariners here, in an offseason that has seen them lose Segura and several other key pieces. At the same time, Seattle has complemented rising star Mitch Haniger with Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana, with the former pushing Dee Gordon back to second base and the latter replacing Denard Span and several others. The Mariners, who got little production from center or left last year, also now have Jay Bruce in the mix. But the speedy Smith and talented Santana -- who was blocked in Milwaukee -- look like the biggest prizes and both have at least three years of club control remaining.

Designated hitter: Twins
Minnesota was below replacement level at DH last year, ranking second-to-last in the AL in OPS (.682) and home runs (15). The Twins used 14 players in that role, including three for at least 35 starts: Logan Morrison, Joe Mauer and Robbie Grossman. That trio is gone, with Nelson Cruz now likely to see the vast majority of the at-bats at DH. Cruz, who signed a one-year deal with a club option, leads the Majors with 203 homers over the past five seasons and is tied for fifth with a 145 wRC+. His power could help Minnesota make a run at Cleveland in the AL Central.

Video: Park on what Cruz can add to the Twins' lineup

Starting rotation: Reds
Cincinnati may not be done improving in this area, with a free agent such as Dallas Keuchel or a trade target such as Sonny Gray among the possibilities. But the Reds already have made a pair of moves to solidify a rotation that last year posted the sixth-highest ERA and fourth-highest FIP in the Majors, over the eighth-fewest innings. Of the six Reds who made at least 20 starts last year, none had an ERA below 4.30. However, Homer Bailey (6.09) and Matt Harvey (4.50) are out, and Sal Romano (5.48) likely has been bumped, with Cincinnati trading for Nationals righty Tanner Roark and Dodgers lefty Alex Wood. While both are due to reach free agency after 2019, Roark has been a reliable innings-eater, and Wood owns a career 3.33 ERA as a starter.

Bullpen: Mets
Several clubs have added relief talent, even as Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino and others remain unsigned. But the Mets -- who have been quite busy this offseason -- stand at the top of the heap after landing Edwin Diaz from Seattle. Diaz was arguably the best reliever in the Majors in 2018, with a 1.96 ERA, 57 saves and 124 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing 24-year-old can team up with Jeurys Familia, who re-signed for three years after getting shipped to Oakland ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline. A full season from both righties would do wonders for a Mets bullpen that ranked 28th in the Majors in ERA, 29th in FIP and 23rd in strikeout rate. New York also inked a Minor League deal with southpaw Luis Avilan, who has held lefties to a .581 OPS in his career.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

1 per team: Players who could stay put until 2025

MLB.com

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

MLB Pipeline's 2019 All-Defense Team

MLB.com

While the evaluation of prospects is still very much a subjective exercise, there is more and more data, and more people interpreting that information, to help in assessing talent. But most of that has come on the offensive side of the game.

Defensive metrics have come a long way, but there is a general consensus they provide less certainty at this point than their counterparts for hitting. So when asking scouts about the top fielding prospects in baseball, the opinions, even about the same player, can vary greatly.

While the evaluation of prospects is still very much a subjective exercise, there is more and more data, and more people interpreting that information, to help in assessing talent. But most of that has come on the offensive side of the game.

Defensive metrics have come a long way, but there is a general consensus they provide less certainty at this point than their counterparts for hitting. So when asking scouts about the top fielding prospects in baseball, the opinions, even about the same player, can vary greatly.

mlb pipeline all defense teams

Even with all of the variables, however, certain players stood out and were mentioned frequently in polls about the top defensive prospects. Braves outfielder Cristian Pache was mentioned more than any other prospect, so he lands on the All-Defense Team for the second year in a row after making the 2018 squad. He, the Nationals' Victor Robles (a three-time All-Defense selection), the Mariners' Evan White and the Tigers' Jake Rogers are all on the team for a second time.

Video: Highlights from MLB Pipeline's 2019 All-Defense Team

Catcher: Jake Rogers, Tigers
While he didn't hit in his first full season with the Tigers after coming over as part of the return from the Astros for Justin Verlander, he continued to show just how good he is behind the dish. Rogers threw out 55.6 percent of potential basestealers in the Double-A Eastern League in 2018. That brings his career mark up to 48.5 percent thanks to his arm strength, quick release and accuracy.

Rogers sets caught stealing mark

"He deserves consideration as the best defensive prospect overall," an American League pro scouting director said. "He's the best defensive catcher by a wide margin."

Top 10 Prospects by Position

First base: Evan White, Mariners
It's rare to have a first baseman mentioned as a contender for best overall defender, but White's name did come up in conversations. He is athletic with outstanding footwork, a plus arm and speed that allows him to have plus range at the position.

"It's game-changing defense at first," one AL scouting executive said. "He makes every defensive player on the field better."

Second base: Nick Madrigal, White Sox
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 Draft was known as the most advanced hitter in the class, but he can also flat-out play second base. He actually has the hands and actions for shortstop, and he could see some time there, though it's unclear if his arm will play from that spot. He could be a Gold Glove-caliber defender on the right side of the infield.

Madrigal gets crazy out

Third base: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates
The son of Charlie Hayes, Ke'Bryan entered pro ball as a very talented defender, with great hands and a plus arm. The 2015 first-round pick got even better when he committed himself to conditioning, becoming more athletic and agile and adding plus range to his overall outstanding defensive toolset.

Shortstop: Andres Gimenez, Mets
Gimenez reached Double-A as a teenager, partially because of an advanced approach at the plate, but also because of his glovework at the premium position. He has the hands, arms, range and internal clock to play the position long-term, even if he has to slide over to second in deference to Amed Rosario.

Outfield: Cristian Pache, Braves
Pache was on the list a year ago thanks to his reputation of having plus range (thanks to his speed and tremendous instincts) to go along with a strong arm in the lower Minors. Not only did he make it to Double-A in 2018, but he really got to show off his defensive chops in front of all 30 teams in the Arizona Fall League. He is smooth and confident, and most feel he's ready for the big leagues defensively right now.

"He's a potential 70 grade defender in center field, where every aspect of his defense is an asset," another AL scouting executive said. "A true ball-hawking, gap-closing center fielder who plays with a reckless abandon to go along with a plus arm. He has a rare combination of athleticism and instincts for the position; he can really slow the game down."

Watch: MiLB Video

Outfield: Victor Robles, Nationals
While 2018 was in many ways a lost season for Robles -- he played in just 73 games between the Minors and Washington -- that did nothing to diminish his abilities in center field. If Pache has nominally become the No. 1 pick in the defensive prospect camp, no one would complain about getting Robles' plus arm and range at No. 2. "Robles is one of the more special outfielders I've seen," the AL pro scouting director said.

Video: WSH@ATL: Robles uses his legs to rob Albies

Outfield: Buddy Reed, Padres
Like the other two outfielders on this list, Reed has the somewhat rare combination of center field ability to go along with a plus arm. He racked up 12 assists in 2018 thanks to that arm and he showed off his range on a national stage, robbing his organization-mate Fernando Tatis Jr. with a spectacular catch in the Futures Game.

Video: WLD@USA: Reed wired up, makes great grab at the wall

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

Rendon, Turner avoid arbitration; 2 players don't

Taylor and Barraclough could face February hearings
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals avoided arbitration on Friday with third baseman Anthony Rendon and shortstop Trea Turner as they agreed to terms with all but two of their five eligible players. The club was not able to reach an agreement with either reliever Kyle Barraclough or outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who may now go to a hearing, a source told to MLB.com.

Rendon, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent after the 2019 season, will reportedly earn $18.8 million next season, according to USA Today. The Nats reached their reported $3.725 million contract with Turner earlier Friday afternoon. Although they could not reach a deal with either Taylor or Barraclough on Friday, they are expected to continue negotiations ahead of February hearings.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals avoided arbitration on Friday with third baseman Anthony Rendon and shortstop Trea Turner as they agreed to terms with all but two of their five eligible players. The club was not able to reach an agreement with either reliever Kyle Barraclough or outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who may now go to a hearing, a source told to MLB.com.

Rendon, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent after the 2019 season, will reportedly earn $18.8 million next season, according to USA Today. The Nats reached their reported $3.725 million contract with Turner earlier Friday afternoon. Although they could not reach a deal with either Taylor or Barraclough on Friday, they are expected to continue negotiations ahead of February hearings.

Typically, the Nats try to settle all of their arbitration contracts and have not been to a hearing since 2015, with reliever Jerry Blevins. They ended up trading Blevins to the Mets before that season began.

Video: Rendon on desire to sign extension, remain with Nats

Rendon is coming off another reliably stellar year in 2018, posting a slash line at .308/.374/.535 with 6.3 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, to earn some down ballot support in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player award; he finished 11th.

Rendon's case was perhaps most notable for Washington as he and the club continue to engage in negotiations to lock him into a long-term extension as they have several times during the past year. Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said the team has extended an offer in the past, and at the Winter Meetings, he said Washington expected to continue to do so. Meanwhile, Rendon has stated repeatedly he would be open to signing an extension with the Nationals. The two sides have still yet to find common ground, but can continue to negotiate a contract of any size after Friday.

Complicating matters for now is the Nationals' pursuit of Bryce Harper. Until Washington knows exactly what Harper's future holds and whether the club might be signing him to a record-breaking contract, it's difficult to see how it would finalize an extension with Rendon.

Turner was in his first year of being arbitration-eligible after qualifying for Super Two status by just two service days, which granted him a fourth year of arbitration eligibility. In 2019, he played in all 162 games and was worth 4.8 Wins Above Replacement, earning him the pay bump.

Video: WSH@COL: Turner launches a 2-run dinger to left field

Before Friday, the Nationals reached an agreement with Joe Ross, the club's projected fifth starter coming off Tommy John surgery, to pay him $1 million next season and settled with left-hander Sammy Solis earlier this offseason to pay him $850,000 for the upcoming season.

Taylor, whose production took a step back in 2018, is in his second year of eligibility. He posted a meager .644 OPS last season and lost playing down the stretch. This marks Barraclough's first year of eligibility after the Nats acquired him from the Marlins this offseason. He posted a 4.20 ERA the year prior in Miami with 10 saves in 61 games.

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

Washington Nationals, Kyle Barraclough, Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Michael A. Taylor, Trea Turner

Inbox: Are Harper rumors affecting Nats?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from Washington fans