We learned on Christmas Eve that the Nationals have a reported three-year, $37.5 million agreement with second baseman Daniel Murphy, but FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the club isn’t done looking for upgrades in their lineup.
At the very least, the Nationals are presumably looking for someone who could share center field duties with young Michael A. Taylor and function as insurance for Jayson Werth, who has dealt with a number of injuries in recent years. Pete Kerzel of MASN Sports reported earlier this month that the Nationals talked to the Rockies about a trade for Charlie Blackmon, but there are still a number of options remaining on the free agent market.
If the focus is on center field, the possibilities include the likes of Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, and Austin Jackson. You could also potentially include Yoenis Cespedes in this mix, though his price tag could be beyond where the Nationals are willing to go. James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals haven’t ruled out a reunion with Span, but they are hesitant about his health after hip surgery. This could be why they declined to give him a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer after the season.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.