Inbox: What's the latest on Nats-Arrieta talks?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier fields questions from Nationals fans

March 9th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez views Spring Training in three different stages.

Players get their feet wet in the first stage, pitchers get their arm back in shape and hitters start tracking pitches and working on their timing. Stage two is when Martinez wants players to start getting more engaged, and he begins to incorporate the game plan for the regular season and beyond. The final stage takes place around the final 10 days, and it's focused on getting fired up to hit the ground running for the regular season.

Washington is still in that early stage of Spring Training as it enjoyed its first off-day from Grapefruit League games on Friday. The team just made its first round of cuts, trimming its roster by eight players on Thursday before adding another pair on Friday morning -- right-hander and infielder were optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.

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With the regular season approaching in less than three weeks, there was no shortage of questions on the minds of fans, so it was time for a Nationals Inbox to try and answer some of those lingering questions.

What's new with the Nationals and Jake Arrieta? - Several of you, in some form

Even three weeks into Spring Training, this question still lingers for the Nationals. Arrieta remains unsigned. Washington still has some uncertainty in its rotation, as A.J. Cole stands to start the season as the fifth starter at the moment. So the links between the two sides continue.

However, there is not much new regarding the Nationals and Arrieta.

Washington has repeatedly insisted that it is set with its in-house options. General manager Mike Rizzo has been consistent on this front, even as recently as earlier this week to the Washington Post when he said, "there's nothing to talk about" -- before declining to address Arrieta.

Things could change drastically: Opening Day is less than three weeks away, and with each day that Arrieta remains unsigned, the likelihood he is ready to start the season on time diminishes. So perhaps Arrieta becomes more willing to accept a shorter deal and the Nationals, seeking the kind of great-value deals Rizzo often talks about, decide to pounce. But those are hypotheticals right now.

Signing Arrieta, to whatever sort of salary he ultimately commands, long or short, would require the Nationals to also surrender their second- and fifth-highest pick in the 2018 Draft and $1 million in International bonus money because Arrieta rejected a qualifying offer. Combine that with the fact that the Nats are already projected to exceed the competitive-balance tax threshold, and adding Arrieta would increase those penalties.

Just as Arrieta rumors have lingered, the rumors swirling around Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto have mostly quieted down. Simply put, the asking price around Realmuto was too much for the Nats' liking. Miami wanted a package that began with or Juan Soto, the top two prospects in Washington's system according to MLB Pipeline and that didn't happen. The Marlins do not have to be in any sort of rush to deal Realmuto, so they can wait until someone meets their asking price.

So until either the Marlins lower their demand or the Nationals meet it, the two sides have moved on.

 Any recent news on ?

There is still no target date for Glover to resume throwing. Martinez was asked about him this week and did not have much of an update. There does not seem to be any sense of urgency to get Glover throwing either, so I am guessing this one might be a while so the Nats can ensure he is 100 percent healthy. At this point, Glover can be counted out of the Nationals' bullpen plans to begin the season.

So far the most impressive player to watch on a daily basis in the Grapefruit League has been Robles. He keeps making highlight-reel catches in center field and owns a .805 OPS with a homer, four RBIs and a pair of stolen bases this spring. Robles, the Nationals' top prospect and MLB Pipeline's sixth-ranked prospect in baseball, appears ready to take the next step. The issue is there is no room.

Michael A. Taylor has missed the past few days with tightness in his right side that Martinez described as precautionary, but the Nationals are preparing Taylor as their starting center fielder. They are encouraging Taylor to take more of a leadership role in the outfield. Martinez has thrown his confidence behind him as well. And even though left fielder has not appeared in any Grapefruit League games, he is still considered on target to start the season on time.

The Nationals have been consistent that Robles will play every day to begin the year. So if there is no room for him in the starting outfield in Washington, he will start the season at Triple-A Syracuse. Now, it's likely if he goes to the Minors and continues to be this impressive that his day in the Majors will come sooner rather than later, but Robles has still never played a game at Syracuse. Barring injury, the Nats' top prospect is most likely to start the season there before he emerges as an everyday outfielder in DC.

I'm a Shake Shack regular, but the jerk chicken stand in center field is great, G Sandwich Shop by Mike Isabella's, Virginia Ham Biscuit and shoutout to District Doughnuts for getting me through day games regularly. I could go on about this for a while; there are a ton of great food options at Nationals Park.