Nationals’ top priority is re-signing Adam LaRoche

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Not that it should come as any sort of surprise, but Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM on Sunday morning that his “number one” priority this winter is to re-sign slugger Adam LaRoche.

Second priority is adding a reliable starting pitcher, either through a trade or a free agent acquisition.

LaRoche, 33, posted a .271/.343/.510 batting line with 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 154 games this past season for the NL East champions. He also won Gold Glove honors for his defense at first base.

LaRoche turned down a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Nats last week because he wants something of the multi-year variety. And he should have little trouble finding it.

Deep-pocketed teams like the Rangers and Red Sox have already expressed interest.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.