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Nationals have made offer to Yoenis Cespedes

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Washington bid close to $200 million on outfielder Jason Heyward before he signed in mid-December with the Chicago Cubs. And the Nationals front office then made a play for Justin Upton before he inked a six-year, $132.75 million contract earlier this week with the Tigers.

It’s pretty clear that the Nationals want to make a big splash, and there’s only one top-tier free agent remaining on the open market. Connect the dots.

Here is FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal

Could the signing of free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes be the next bombshell out of Washington D.C.?

The exact market for Cespedes remains unclear, but the Nationals are indeed pursuing the slugger, according to major-league sources.

Rosenthal says the Nationals have made a formal offer to Cespedes, though it is “said to be for less than the Tigers gave Upton.” Would something in the five-year, $100-110 million range get it done?

Cespedes had the best year of his career in 2015, slashing .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI in 159 games between the Tigers and Mets.

The 30-year-old Cuban slugger is not a great on-paper fit for the Nationals’ current roster given that veteran left fielder Jayson Werth is owed $42 million over the next two seasons, right fielder and 2015 MVP Bryce Harper is locked in through 2018, and Ben Revere was brought in this winter to share time with Michael Taylor in center field. But a trade or two could clear some room.

Cespedes is also being pursued by the White Sox and Mets, but both of those teams are reluctant to go beyond three years. It’s a winnable bidding war for the Nats, who were a major disappointment last season.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”