Nationals acquire OF Ben Revere from Toronto Blue Jays

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder Ben Revere and a player to be named from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Drew Storen and cash considerations.

Revere, 27, joins the Nationals on the heels of his third consecutive season posting a .300 batting average or higher. The versatile outfielder hit .306 in 2015 with a .342 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, seven triples, two home runs and 31 stolen bases in 152 games, 96 with the Philadelphia Phillies and the final 56 with the Blue Jays.

The speedy Revere is a career .295 hitter who has averaged nearly 30 stolen bases per season during his six years in the Major Leagues. No stranger to the National League East, Revere hit .303 with 35 doubles, 16 triples, 71 RBI and 95 stolen bases during his two-plus seasons with the Phillies (335 games). In 2014, Revere led the National League in hits with 184.

Acquired from the Phillies at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Revere hit .319 with a .354 on-base percentage to help the Blue Jays earn the American League East championship, their first division title since 1993. Revere hit .255 in the 2015 postseason, tallying a double, an RBI, two stolen bases and four walks as the Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series, before falling to the Kansas City Royals in six games in the American League Championship Series.

Revere has spent significant time at all three outfield spots and hit the majority of his career at the top of the order, batting first or second in 506 of his 645 MLB games.

An Atlanta, Ga., native, Revere was a first-round selection (No. 27 overall) of the Minnesota Twins in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 7, 2010 and hit .278 in 254 games for the Twins, before he was traded to Philadelphia in Dec. 2012, in exchange for right-handed pitchers Trevor May and Vance Worley.

Storen, 28, spent six seasons as a National, going 21-13 with 95 saves and a 3.02 ERA in 355 games, pitching in nearly every role out of the Nationals’ bullpen. The right-hander leaves Washington ranking second on the club’s all-time (2005-present) saves list, behind Chad Cordero (113). He also ranks second in relief appearances (355) and second among relievers in strikeouts (321).

In 2014, Storen led all qualified National League relievers with a 1.12 ERA, the lowest single-season ERA by a reliever in Nationals history (min. 40 games). From 2014-2015, Storen recorded 40 saves, 25 holds, a 2.26 ERA and 113 strikeouts against 27 walks. The No. 10 overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Storen made his Major League debut less than one year later, May 17, 2010 at St. Louis.

Nationals add Dan Jennings to front office staff

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals added Dan Jennings to their front office staff on Friday, hiring the former Major League executive and manager as a Special Assistant to President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo.

Jennings, who will focus on all facets of the Nationals’ scouting operations, comes to Washington on the heels of the unique experience of serving the Miami Marlins both in an executive role (most recently as Vice President and General Manager) as well as in an on-field capacity. Jennings took over as the Marlins’ field manager on May 18, 2015, a brand new experience for him after establishing himself as a scout and working in various front office roles.

The Nationals are Jennings’ first new organization since 2002, when he joined Miami as Vice President of Player Personnel and began his ascension through their front office. Jennings also served as the Marlins’ Assistant General Manager & VP of Player Personnel, before his promotion to General Manager on Sept. 29, 2013. In his front office capacities with the Marlins, Jennings focused on roster management, arbitration, payroll, contract research and negotiations, and waiver rule compliance.

Jennings shifted to the dugout, gaining valuable and varied experiences, when the Marlins relieved Mike Redmond of his duties. He led Miami to a 55-69 record, after the Marlins had opened with a 16-22 mark.

Prior to joining the Marlins, Jennings served as the Director of Scouting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for more than seven seasons, during which time the Rays signed and developed more than 45 Major League players – including Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, James Shields and Rocco Baldelli. Jennings began his career as an Associate Scout for the Cincinnati Reds in 1986 and moved to an Area Scout role with the Seattle Mariners in 1988. The Mariners promoted him to Midwest Crosschecker in 1995, before Jennings joined the Rays later that year (August 16).

Jennings, who serves on the Board of Directors for the MLB Scout of the Year program and the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, was elected into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 2012. That election followed his 2004 appointment to the Southeastern Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.

An undrafted right-handed pitcher who was signed by the New York Yankees out of a 1984 tryout camp, Jennings’ minor league career was brief. He played collegiately for the University of Southern Mississippi, before graduating from William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 1984.

Nationals agree to terms with INF Stephen Drew

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By Kyle Brostowitz

DrewWelcomeColorThe Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with infielder Stephen Drew on Wednesday and designated right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill for assignment.

Drew, a veteran of 10 Major League seasons, will join the Nationals on the heels of a 2015 season in which he hit 17 home runs for the New York Yankees. The power output was Drew’s largest since the left-handed-hitter clubbed 21 home runs in 2008 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. His 17 home runs were tied for third among Major League second basemen in 2015.

The 32-year-old Drew hit .201 with 16 doubles and one triple, tallied 44 RBI and scored 43 runs in 131 games for the Yankees. He appeared in 123 games (94 starts) at second base, 15 games (10 starts) at shortstop and four games (one start) at third base.

No stranger to the postseason, Drew has appeared in 28 playoff games, including starting at shortstop in each of Boston’s 16 postseason games in 2013, helping the Red Sox secure the World Series title. Drew also appeared in the postseason with the Oakland Athletics in 2012 and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007.

A former first-round pick (No. 15 overall) by the Diamondbacks in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Drew has appeared in 1,152 games in his 10 Major League seasons, hitting .251 with 240 doubles, 62 triples, 114 home runs, 486 RBI, 41 stolen bases and 532 runs scored. He made his Major League debut in 2006, at the age of 23, with the Diamondbacks before stints with Oakland (2012), Boston (2013-14) and New York (2014-15).

A native of Valdosta, Ga., Drew, who attended Florida State University, is the youngest brother of former first-round selections and Major Leaguers, J.D. and Tim Drew.

Hill, 26, appeared in nine Major League games over the past two seasons for the Nationals, going 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA. Hill’s lone big league start came Sept. 26, 2014 vs. Miami. In 111 minor league games (101 starts) spanning five minor league seasons, Hill went 34-35 with a 3.84 ERA. He was a sixth round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University.

With the addition of Drew, the Nationals currently have 40 players on their 40-man roster.

Nationals agree to terms with INF Daniel Murphy

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by Amanda Comak

MurphyWelcomeIGThe Washington Nationals agreed to terms with All-Star infielder Daniel Murphy on Wednesday, finalizing a three-year contract with the 2015 National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player. Right-handed pitcher Erik Davis was designated for assignment.

Murphy joins the Nationals after spending the first 10 years of his professional career in the New York Mets organization, including seven seasons in the Major Leagues with Washington’s divisional foe. A versatile infielder, Murphy has appeared at second base (508 games), first base (190 games), third base (86 games), and in the outfield (60 games) during his MLB tenure.

Murphy is a career .288 hitter who has posted a .331 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging percentage over 903 MLB games. During a 2015 season in which he hit .281/.322/.449, Murphy clubbed 38 doubles, two triples and 14 home runs, while driving in 73 for the Mets.

A strong contact hitter, Murphy posted the lowest percentage of swinging strikes (6.9) in the National League in 2015, along with the highest contact percentage among all NL hitters (91.0). He also ranked in the top 10 among qualified NL left-handed-hitting infielders in batting average (3rd), on-base percentage (9th), and slugging percentage (9th).

Murphy’s 38 total strikeouts in 2015 were the fewest by a left-handed hitter in the Major Leagues, among players who appeared in at least 115 games. He walked (31 BB) nearly as often as he struck out.

It was the 2015 postseason, however, where Murphy emerged as one of the game’s most dangerous hitters, and propelled the Mets to the World Series with a .421 combined batting average in the National League Division Series (.333) and NLCS (.529), along with seven home runs and 11 RBI. The NLCS MVP, Murphy homered in every game of the Mets’ sweep over the Chicago Cubs – four home runs in 18 plate appearances – and singlehandedly drove in 29 percent of New York’s total runs in the series.

Consistency has more often been Murphy’s hallmark, however, as the 30-year-old has posted a full-season batting average below .280 only once in his big league career (.266, 2009) and has an average of .291 since the start of 2011. An All-Star for the Mets in 2014, Murphy earned himself a trip to the Mid-Summer Classic in Minnesota by hitting .294 with a .342 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage, along with 23 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 37 RBI in his first 92 games of the season.

Murphy, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., was originally selected by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major league debut just more than two years later, on Aug. 2, 2008, and appeared in 49 games for the Mets that season.

Davis, 29, appeared in 37 games across three minor league levels in 2015, going 1-2 with three saves and a 3.88 ERA. Davis, who missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 2, 2014, made his debut in 2013. He posted a 3.12 ERA in 10 appearances during a pair of MLB stints. Davis was acquired, along with cash considerations, from the San Diego Padres in exchange for infielder Alberto Gonzalez on March 28, 2011.

Nationals formally announce 2016 Major League coaching staff

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By Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals announced manager Dusty Baker’s full coaching staff on Tuesday, making the additions of bench coach Chris Speier, pitching coach Mike Maddux, hitting coach Rick Schu, first base coach Davey Lopes, third base coach Bobby Henley, assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones, and bullpen coach Dan Firova official.

Speier, 65, returns to the dugout as Baker’s bench coach, a role he served for six seasons (2008-13) with the Cincinnati Reds. Speier comes to Washington after gaining experience with six other organizations as a manager, coach or instructor, and after having served as Special Assistant to Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty the last two seasons (2014-15). A member of Baker’s staff in Chicago as well, serving as the Cubs’ third base coach from 2005-06, Speier spent the 2004 season as bench coach for the Oakland Athletics, coached third base for the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks, and served in the same role for the 2000 Brewers. Speier, who has extensive experience as a minor league manager and coach, played 19 years professionally. The three-time All-Star’s career spanned stops in San Francisco, Montreal, St. Louis, Minnesota and Chicago and included three postseason appearances

Maddux, 54, comes to Washington after seven seasons as the Texas Rangers’ pitching coach. During his tenure, the Texas Rangers earned four postseason berths, and Maddux was integral in developing many Rangers pitchers. Under his watch in 2015, Colby Lewis ranked fifth in the American League with 17 wins, while Yovani Gallardo’s 3.42 ERA ranked 11th. In 2014, his staff ranked second in the American league with 17 shutouts, second-most in Texas history. From 2010-13, the Rangers were one of just five clubs (along with Atlanta, St. Louis, Oakland, and Tampa) to post four consecutive sub-4.00 team ERAs, accomplishing that feat for just the second time in Rangers history (six straight, 1974-79). Prior to Maddux’s arrival, the Rangers had not posted an ERA lower than 4.00 since 1990. Over his first five seasons with Texas (2009-13), their team 3.94 ERA was Texas’ lowest ERA over a five-year span since 1981-85 (3.92). Maddux joined Texas after six years (2003-08) with the Brewers as pitching coach. There, he oversaw a Brewers staff that ranked second in the NL with a 3.85 ERA in 2008, the lowest mark by a Milwaukee club in 16 years, en-route to securing their first postseason berth in 26 years. Maddux served as the pitching coach for Houston’s Double-A Round Rock from 2000-02. As a Major Leaguer, Maddux was 39-37 with a 4.05 ERA in 472 games (48 starts) over 15 seasons with Philadelphia (1986-89), Los Angeles (1990, 1999), San Diego (1991-92), New York Mets (1993-94), Pittsburgh (1995), Boston (1995-96), Seattle (1997), Montreal (1998-99), and Houston (2000).

Schu, 53, returns to the Nationals for his third full season as the Major League hitting coach, his sixth with the organization. Schu, whose resume includes 18 seasons as a hitting coach and a nine-year playing career, oversaw a 2015 Nationals offense that ranked among NL teams in runs scored (3rd, 703), home runs (T3rd, 177) and slugging percentage (5th .403), as well as the emergence of NL MVP Bryce Harper. Schu, who was elevated to the Major League coaching staff on July 23, 2013, began the 2013 season as the Nationals’ Minor League Hitting Coordinator, a role he’d been in since 2010. Prior to the Nationals, Schu spent 12 years with the Diamondbacks, including portions of four seasons (2004, 2007-09) as Arizona’s MLB hitting coach. Schu hit .246 with 41 home runs and 134 RBI in 580 MLB games with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, California and Montreal.

Lopes, 70, returns to the Nationals as the team’s first base coach, a post he held during the 2006 season. The 2016 season will mark the 30th as a Major League coach for Lopes, who spent the past five seasons in the same position for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A highly-regarded baserunning instructor, Lopes was instrumental in improving the Dodgers’ running game. Since 2011, a Dodger has ranked in the top 10 in stolen bases three times, and the 2011 Dodgers posted a 75.9 stolen base percentage, the team’s second-best mark since moving to L.A. in 1958. Prior to joining the Dodgers, Lopes spent four seasons (2007-10) as the first base coach and outfield/baserunning instructor for the Philadelphia Phillies, appearing in the postseason all four years and winning a World Series ring in 2008. While with Philadelphia, Lopes coached current Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, helping him achieve back-to-back 20 stolen base seasons (2008, 2009) and an 88 percent (60-for-68) stolen base percentage. In each of his four seasons the Phillies posted the best stolen base percentage in MLB, including the best mark in MLB history in 2007 (87.9 %). In 2008, the Phillies also led the NL and tied for the MLB lead with 36 outfield assists. Lopes served previously as the first base coach in San Diego (1995-1999 and 2003-2005), Baltimore (1992-1994) and Texas (1988-1991), and skippered the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-02. A 16-year Major Leaguer, Lopes’ playing career included stops in Los Angeles (1972-81), Oakland (1982-84), Chicago (1984-86, Cubs) and Houston (1986-87). Lopes appeared in four World Series, including a World Series Championship in 1981, as well as four consecutive All-Star Games (1978-81).

Henley, 42, returns for his third season as Washington’s third base coach and his 23rd season with the Montreal/Washington franchise. Henley, who has coached in the Nationals’ system for 11 years, served as the Nationals Minor League field coordinator from 2010-13 and spent four seasons (2006-09) as catching coordinator, as well as manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals. Henley guided the GCL Nationals to a league championship in 2009, posting a 36-19 mark before going a perfect 3-0 in the playoffs. He also served managerial posts in Washington’s system with Single-A Potomac (2005), Single-A Savannah (2004) and the GCL Expos (2003). Henley was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 1991 First-Year Player Draft and made his MLB debut in 1998.

Jones, 40, returns to the MLB ranks as the Nationals’ assistant hitting coach. A veteran of 10 Major League seasons, Jones most recently worked in 2014 as the hitting coach of San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas. It was his third season as a coach in San Diego’s system after serving the 2013 season in the same capacity with Double-A San Antonio. Jones joined the Padres in 2012 as the hitting coach at Single-A Fort Wayne. Selected in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins, Jones enjoyed time with Minnesota, (1999-2005), the Chicago Cubs (2006-07), where he played under Baker, Detroit (2008) and Florida (2008). He hit .277 with 255 doubles, 19 triples, 165 home runs, 630 RBI, 632 runs scored and 82 stolen bases in 1,302 games.

Firova, 59, joins the Nationals after more than 20 years of managing and coaching in the Mexican League. He most recently worked as a coach at the Pericos de Puebla Baseball Academy and for the past two seasons, he managed the Piratas de Campeche, earning postseason berths in 2014 and 2015. Firova’s most successful managerial stint came with the Tigres de Mexico City, where he won three Mexican League championships (1997, 2000, 2001) during his eight seasons (1995-2002) as manager. Firova was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the second round of the 1980 amateur draft and made his Major League debut with the Mariners during the 1981 season. He also appeared in the Major Leagues with Seattle in 1982 and Cleveland in 1988. Firova played 13 professional seasons with Seattle, Kansas City, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs, before joining the Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo as a coach in 1992.

Nationals agree to terms with RHP Yusmeiro Petit

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a conditional option for a second year with right-handed pitcher Yusmeiro Petit on Monday.

Petit comes to Washington after spending the previous four seasons as a member of the San Francisco Giants’ pitching staff. The right-hander, who has played parts of eight seasons in the Major Leagues, was 10-7 with a 3.66 ERA during his tenure with the Giants.

The versatile reliever appeared in 90 games (245.2 IP) in that span, starting 21 and finishing 29. Establishing a reputation for having a durable arm and a penchant for strike-throwing, 57 of his 90 appearances with the Giants were more than an inning in length – including 13 starts – and his 4.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a reliever was the fifth-best such mark in the National League from 2012-2015.

The past two seasons, in particular, Petit has been a key cog on the Giants staff. Tough on right-handed batters throughout the course of his career, he has been exceptionally stingy against them since the start of the 2014 season. Petit has held the 422 batters he’s faced in that span to a .213 average against, and struck out 124.

In helping the Giants secure the 2014 World Series Championship, Petit threw 117.0 regular-season innings, struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings and posted a 6.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio, all of which were career highs. In three postseason appearances that year, Petit was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA (2 ER/12.2 IP).

Over the course of his Major League career, which has also included big league time with the Florida Marlins (2006) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2007-2009), Petit has worked to a 20-27 record and a 4.29 career ERA. Originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in Nov. 2001, Petit was not tendered a contract by the Giants on Dec. 2, 2015, and was granted free agency.

With the addition of Petit, the Nationals currently have 40 players on their 40-man roster.

Asked & Answered: Mark D. Lerner answers fan questions

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By Mark D. Lerner
Vice Chairman & Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals

Lerner2Nationals Fans,

Thanks so much for submitting your questions this past week. I always enjoy hearing from fans, and have always said we have the best fans in baseball! I plan on sharing on our social channels throughout the offseason, so I hope this will be the first of many conversations!

Let’s get right to your questions:

Why haven’t you cut Jonathan Papelbon yet? His act was embarrassing to a Nats fan. I will not attend or watch a game until he is no longer on the roster.

I knew this would be the first question, so let me tell you what our thinking is right now. This continues to be a tough one. The incident between Jonathan and Bryce Harper was an unfortunate and unacceptable blow-up between two very passionate players.  Luckily, they put it behind them almost immediately. It was probably easier for them to do that because they know each other in a larger context: as teammates who both want to win.  I know both players would love to have that unfortunate moment back. We have asked Mike Rizzo to determine what roster best puts us in a position to win a World Series. He will certainly do that based on talent, and what’s best for our clubhouse moving forward.

What are you going to do now that Jordan Zimmermann is gone and you might lose Doug Fister? Is Tanner Roark back in rotation? Or Lucas Giolito ready?

We are always looking to improve our starting rotation.  The good news is that we have some strong young arms in our farm system that may prove that they are ready to crack the roster as starters.  We also have stockpiled enough young talent all around that we have players other teams may want to trade in return for a pitcher or two.  I think we are going to have a very interesting and competitive Spring Training in 2016.

Mr. Lerner –

Per Twitter, I am asking a question that my season ticket partner and I have had for years. Is the Curly-W clock in right/center going to get hands again? The clock was such a nice and what seems to be a relatively cheap feature. Also, what about the Curly W in the center field grass? I have read that the answer was due to it damaging the lawn but I am not sure I buy that. I had even put a Curly W in my backyard and tweeted it for encouragement. :) We have concert stages that leave marks.

I love the clock, too, but there has been an ongoing maintenance issue and I’m sorry to say it looks like it’s impossible to fix.  I’ve been told the parts are just not available.  It’s actually a pretty complicated issue, believe it or not, and we’re looking at designs to replace it with something else, no later than the All-Star Game in 2018.

As for the field, I think fans loved seeing the Curly W the same as I did, but players complained about the erratic bounce the ball made off the edges of the design so, of course, the groundskeepers stopped cutting it into the grass.  Can’t argue with that.

Thank you for taking my question, Mark…It seems as though a strategic error was made last season with the failure to add the necessary pieces to make the playoffs. Mike Rizzo mentioned at the trade deadline that budget constraints were a factor in the decision not to add talent, other than Papelbon, who played at no cost. I can only assume that Scherzer’s $210MM salary had a lot to do with limiting the available budget, and you have his salary on the books for another 13 years. What is being done to allocate the necessary funds to on-field talent this year to avoid a repeat of last season? Thank you.

We will never go crazy on spending for spending’s sake, but I think we have a proven history of smart spending on talent we believe will help us win now and in the future.  That really is our test at this point.  We are constantly looking for ways to get better, and we ask Mike Rizzo and his staff to make honest assessments about the value of the talent available.

Will the Lerner family be willing to sign high profile free agent(s) this season?

I think the fans know we will never be shy about spending money and will never rule anything out. These types of investments — and they are truly that — are large-scale decisions that have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. But to close yourself off from any of those investments with a blanket statement wouldn’t be prudent, or in the best interest of the team. We have great trust in our baseball operations department and the guidance they provide, and we won’t close any doors.

The Nats refreshed the team’s uniforms several years ago. I personally feel the set has been a success for the most part, but also could be improved in some ways. How do you feel about them? Do you see any enhancements/additions in the future, or are you content with this set?

It’s funny, now anywhere I travel I run into folks wearing Nationals team merchandise – Curly W caps, jerseys, T-shirts.  I think we have developed a pretty popular logo and brand.  We are open to alternate designs down the line, but currently we are sticking with what is proving to be popular.

Can we have the interlocking “DC” return as a home/away alternate and is it possible to sell the uniforms and caps with the interlocking “DC” logo in the team store?

We are open to alternate designs, but don’t have any current plans to change the uniforms next season. I’ll share your request for the interlocking DC logo to be made available in our stores with the retail team!

I was born in D.C., raised in Prince George’s County, MD. I still live in P.G. till this day. I, like most D.C. area baseball fans, were forced to follow the Baltimore Orioles until we finally brought a team back here to our metro area. It’s frustrating to see the Baltimore Orioles post up billboards in P.G. County (BW Parkway right at the D.C. border, and 301) as if to claim the area as their own territory simply because it’s in the state of MD. P.G. County is a part of the D.C. area, as is Montgomery County, and has no connection to the Baltimore area other than it happens to be in the same state. My question is- What are you doing to continue establishing your territory on the MD side of the D.C. metro area? It just feels like we get less attention than the VA side of the DC area. There should be a lot more presence here. This is all Nats country. O’s country stops in Howard and Anne Arundel counties. 

As a fan who grew up in the Maryland suburbs, I know how strong our fanbase is there. Believe me, we are going to keep growing our brand throughout Maryland and the entire DMV. We are working to develop innovative ways to reach and keep those fans.  Keep your eyes open and I think you will see some additional presence through our community relations and marketing.

Any big changes/new developments you are working on at Nationals Park?

We’re always working on enhancing the fan experience – from concessions to giveaways to seating options. Last season we created the private clubs within the ballpark, K Street boxes and Club 24, unveiled the Lansinoh Lounge for nursing mothers and hosted Jose Andres’ Pepe food truck – to name just a few.  We have some great things being developed during the offseason, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise!

What’s being done about security at Nats Park. I want to feel safe at the ballpark. The security staff seems as though they don’t take their job seriously.

I disagree with your assessment. Our security is second to none. Most of the comments I’ve gotten about security – both from the perspective of friendliness as well as professionalism – have been very positive. If you have specific instances, you should alert the organization immediately using the in-park text messaging system. Our staff is very well-trained and we are vigilant about providing the best and most effective public security possible, as well as the best game-day experience.

Seriously, you should have interviewed me for the skipper job! What women do you have in your team execution group? You need us! I am available if price is right!! #womentowinworldseries

I am proud that the Washington Nationals have one of the best records in professional sports when it comes to hiring.  We currently have more women working in executive positions in our front office than not only any other in Major League Baseball, but than any other team in professional sports in America. I do think we will begin to see more women breaking into baseball operations departments throughout baseball, and we will see women assuming high ranking jobs on the field.

Can you share your feelings regarding last season? The thank you letter to fans at the end of the season said “Our desire to do better – to be better – burns stronger than ever.” What do you view as the biggest issue that contributed to the disappointing season?

Our family’s goal is to bring a World Series back to Washington. We strive to be a playoff-caliber team every year. We were disappointed that we weren’t able to be that last season. But we are moving forward to next season and are excited to usher in the Dusty Baker era. We have put into place several other significant changes, too, from hiring a new coaching staff to restructuring our medical team and we’re hopeful that the 2016 season will be a great one.

Why won’t the Nationals pay to have Metro run late for evening games?

We’ve consistently said that as a world-class city – and the Nation’s Capital – D.C. needs to have a world-class public transportation system and that includes an extended hours schedule like every other major American city. Currently our fans contribute millions of dollars and thousands of hours a year to WMATA traveling to and from games during our 81 home games.  That usage should be reflected in extended hours.

The construction scheduled for the new spring training facility is very ambitious. How confident are you that you will be able to meet the goal to open in time for 2017? And what is the plan if it can’t happen in time? 

This is going to be such a wonderful complex for our team, our fans, and the Palm Beach community. We’re really excited for this new chapter for our organization and are happy to have such wonderful partners in the Astros organization. The new facility will feature Major League-size practice fields, minor league-size practice fields, batting cages and pitching mounds. The stadium itself will significantly improve the fan experience with 6,400 ticketed seats and 1,250 ticketed berm seats, as well as suites, party decks, concession stands, team store, a picnic area and outfield attractions.  The Palm Beach location also has lots of flights to and from D.C. and features expanded hotel and restaurant options. It is an aggressive timetable. Our organization, and the Astros and our contractors are very aware of what needs to be done. The local governments and our new neighbors have been great and are engaged in working to meet the deadline to open our doors to fans for 2017’s spring training.

Why do you believe Dusty Baker is the right man for the job?

There was unnecessary confusion and misinformation during the hiring process because of so many false reports. We were thrilled to bring Dusty on board. He is a fantastic addition to the team and we are incredibly excited to see what he will bring to the clubhouse. He brings nearly 50 years of professional baseball experience with him – he is among the winningest managers in baseball history. He has deep postseason experience, both as a manager and as a player – and has produced seven postseason teams, including five division championships. He’ll help create a clubhouse focused on winning and he’s a lot of fun to be around. We think players and fans will really connect with him.

Many people have pointed out that MLB has had very few African-American managers. What are your thoughts on how baseball can become more diverse at all levels?

Diversity at all levels helps make the game better. We support MLB’s efforts to enhance diversity within the management ranks and believe it is important. We’re proud to have Dusty. Dusty is the best person to be our manager right now. Period. Of course, we are also proud that our most recent coaching hires have made us more diverse.

I see that NatsFest has been expanded to two days and now has a winter theme. Why did you make these changes and how will NatsFest be different this year? 

We think everyone will really enjoy the new and improved WinterFest experience! Two days – December 12 and 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the DC Convention Center – with new winter-themed games and photos with Santa – and old favorites like the Kids Press Conference, Player Story Times and autograph sessions. Dusty Baker will be attending, as well as players. Tickets are available at nationals.com/NatsWinterfest  – $30 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $35 for adults and $22 for children 12 and under.

We heard from fans that the one-day only model was difficult given how busy families are during the holiday season. Expanding to two days gives our fans more options. We also looked at the calendar and realized that given the timing, it made sense to incorporate a winter theme along with fan favorites from previous years.

Mr. Lerner,
Your manager just made dismissive comments about allegations of domestic violence allegedly perpetrated by a former player of his. My question: what are you planning on doing about it, knowing that silence or a vague non-apology is not acceptable?  

The Nationals and MLB take domestic violence very seriously. We support the policies the league has put into place regarding this issue. Dusty gave the eulogy less than a year ago at Darryl Hamilton’s funeral, whose death was tragically a result of domestic violence. He has personal experience with domestic violence, and seen the repercussions of it to those very close to him. He was in no way condoning or trivializing the allegations. Dusty was sharing his personal impressions of Chapman based on his experience managing him for the Reds, and commenting on the man he knew then. He has clarified that his hope was that Chapman, the Chapman he knew, had not committed the reported acts of violence.

The Nats had great success and overwhelming crowd participation when Take On Me was played during the 7th-inning stretch.  Now, it seems it’s hard to get much involvement and participation has dwindled. Why is Take On Me no longer played and will you ever bring it back to the 7th-inning stretch?  

Thanks for this question. We’ve heard from many fans that they would like a larger variety of songs incorporated into the game experience, so we’ve experimented with different things. We’re working on what will be played next season and appreciate your feedback!

Given Wednesday’s announcement by MLB regarding proposed netting guidelines, what sections will be impacted at Nationals Park?

We take the health and safety of our fans very seriously. We’ve been told by MLB that our current netting meets the standards proposed this week.

Nationals agree to terms with RHP Shawn Kelley

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By Kyle Brostowitz

KelleyWelcomeThe Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a three-year contract with right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley on Friday.

Kelley, a veteran of seven Major League seasons, will join the Nationals after posting a 2.45 ERA and a 2-2 record in 53 games for the San Diego Padres in 2015. He struck out 63 batters and walked just 15 in 51.1 innings pitched.

The 31-year-old is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, as his 2.45 ERA (14 ER/51.1 IP) and 1.091 walks and hits per innings pitched marks were his best since an injury-shortened 2011 season. His 4.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio was his best since 2009 (4.56), his rookie season, and ranked 11th among National League relievers in 2015.

Over his final 45 appearances of the 2015 season, Kelley went 2-0 with a 1.05 ERA (5 ER/42.2 IP) and six holds, along with 54 strikeouts against just 10 walks and limited the opposition to a .184 batting average. His 1.05 ERA over that stretch was the best mark of any National League pitcher with at least 30.0 innings pitched. From July 30 through the end of the season, he allowed just one earned run over his final 21 appearances (15.1 IP), striking out 24 batters, allowing nine hits and walking eight.

Kelley was particularly tough on right-handed batters in 2015, surrendering just two extra-base hits while allowing them to post just a .218 (22-for-101) average against on the season. From May 30 through the end of the year, Kelley did not allow an extra-base hit to a right-handed batter, a stretch that spanned the final 98 right-handed hitters he faced.

Kelley began his Major League career with the Seattle Mariners (2009-12) before joining the New York Yankees (2013-14) and the Padres (2015).

In 289 career appearances, Kelley is 19-19 with a 3.67 ERA while posting 10.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and a 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was originally selected in the 13th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and was acquired by the Padres from the Yankees on December 29, 2014.

With the addition of Kelley, the Nationals currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Nationals agree to terms with LHP Oliver Perez

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Oliver Pérez on Friday.

PerezWelcomePérez, a 13-year Major League veteran, joins the Nationals’ organization for the second time in his career. The left-hander, once an accomplished MLB starter, made his transition to a reliever after pitching for Double-A Harrisburg in 2011. Since then, Pérez has established himself as reliable bullpen arm, appearing in 232 MLB games (182.1 IP) and posting a 3.31 ERA, while striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings.

A career 67-83, Pérez has made 195 Major League starts, finished 58 MLB games, worked to a 4.44 ERA and worn the Major League uniform of six different teams: San Diego (2002-03), Pittsburgh (2003-06), New York (2006-10), Seattle (2012-13), Arizona (2014-15), and Houston (2015). He returns to the National League East at the big league level for the first time since a five-year stint with the Mets, in which he went 29-29 with a 4.71 ERA and amassed 520.0 innings pitched.

Over the course of his career, Pérez has held left-handed batters to a .238 average, but he was exceptionally tough on left-handed batters in 2015, holding them to a .185 average and .235 on-base percentage. Last season, with the Diamondbacks and Astros, Pérez struck out 34 percent of all left-handed batters he faced (98) and issued only five walks.

Pérez is one of only five left-handed relievers across the Major Leagues who has appeared in 60 games or more and struck out at least 50 batters in each of the past three seasons, joining Tony Watson (PIT), Glen Perkins (MIN), Mike Dunn (MIA), and Brett Cecil (TOR). In his career as a reliever, he’s kept 70.1 percent of inherited runners from scoring, and accrued 25 holds over the previous two years.

The left-hander has made four postseason appearances, separated by nine years, as he started twice in the 2006 National League Championship Series for the Mets and appeared in two games this past October for the Astros in the American League Division Series.

Pérez, 34, was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Mexico by the San Diego Padres in March, 1999. A three-time member of the Mexican World Baseball Classic team (2006, 2009, 2013), Pérez made 188 MLB starts from 2002-09, including the final home opener (April 8, 2008 vs. PHI) and the final game (Sept. 28, 2008 vs. FLA) at Shea Stadium.

With the addition of Pérez, the Nationals currently have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

Nationals acquire RHP Trevor Gott & RHP Michael Brady

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals acquired right-handed reliever Trevor Gott and minor league right-handed pitcher Michael Brady from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for infielder Yunel Escobar and cash considerations on Thursday.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

A hard-throwing right-hander, Gott joins the Nationals after appearing in 48 games for the Angels in 2015, including his Major League debut on June 14 vs. the Oakland Athletics. The 23-year-old posted a 3.02 ERA and a 4-2 record in 47.2 innings during his first Major League season, striking out 27 batters and walking 16. Gott finished seven games for the Angels.

A native of Lexington, Ky., Gott has averaged 96.74 mph on his fastball during his Major League career – and touched 98.8 mph (according to BrooksBaseball.com) — as part of a repertoire that also includes a changeup and a curveball. A sixth-round selection of the San Diego Padres in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Gott was a part of the package of players utilized by the Padres to acquire closer Huston Street in July, 2014.

In three Minor League seasons Gott was 7-7 with a 2.69 ERA in 108 games (124.0 IP). He finished 64 games and earned 30 saves.

Brady, 28, has compiled a 20-21 record and a 3.08 ERA over the course of six minor league seasons, spanning all levels (251 games, 385.1 IP). Originally a 24th-round selection of the Florida Marlins out of the University of California, Berkeley, Brady was claimed on waivers by the Angels in April, 2014.

at Dodger Stadium on August 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Escobar, 33, hit .314 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage in 139 games for the Nationals in 2015. The veteran infielder started 134 games at third base and clubbed 25 doubles, one triple and nine home runs. His .314 batting average ranked sixth in the National League and his 49 multi-hit games were the eighth most by any National League player in 2015.

Acquired from the Oakland Athletics on January 14, 2015 in exchange for right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard, Escobar’s lone season in Washington featured his highest batting average since his rookie (2007) season with the Atlanta Braves.

With the addition of Gott, the Nationals currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster.

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