- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2016

Four members of the Washington Nationals are finalists for awards in the National League.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer is one of three finalists for the Cy Young Award. Second baseman Daniel Murphy is among the trio who could win the National League MVP. Manager Dusty Baker is among the final options for Manager of the Year. Center fielder Trea Turner is one of three finalists for Rookie of the Year.

Baker, in his first season in Washington, led the Nationals to 95 wins and the National League East Division title. After an awkward hiring process, where, at one point, Baker believed he was out of the running for the job, Matt Williams’ replacement has been recognized as among the top managers in the National League last season. Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers are the other candidates. The Cleveland Indians’ Terry Francona, Texas Rangers’ Jeff Bannister and Baltimore Orioles’ Buck Showalter are the American League finalists.

Scherzer led the National League in strikeouts, innings pitched and WHIP. His second season in Washington was as potent as his first. Scherzer finished with 20 wins and a 2.96 ERA. His competition for the award are two Cubs players: Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. The AL finalists are the Indians’ Corey Kluber, Boston Red Sox’s Rick Porcello and Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander.

Murphy had his best regular season since entering MLB in 2008. He finished second in the National League with a .347 batting average and tied for the league lead in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Kris Bryant of the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager are the others under consideration. The finalists in the AL are the Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, Red Sox’s Mookie Betts and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Trout.

Turner made just 324 plate appearances, but his impact was immense. He hit .342 atop the Nationals‘ lineup and stole 33 bases in 73 games. Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda and Seager are the other Rookie of the Year finalists. On the American League side, the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, the New York Yankees’ Gary Sanchez and Indians’ Tyler Naquin are up for the award.

The awards will be announced next week. Rookie of the Year is announced Nov. 14. Manager of the Year on Nov. 15. The Cy Young Award on Nov. 16 and MVP on Nov. 17. The Nationals are the only team with finalists in each category.

Washington does not extend Ramos a qualifying offer

The Nationals did not give catcher Wilson Ramos a qualifying offer on Monday, allowing the catcher to become a free agent.

Ramos had a career year in 2016 when he hit .307 with 22 home runs and made his first All-Star appearance. Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Sept. 26, his second ACL tear in five years. The 29-year-old had ACL reconstruction surgery Oct. 14. His recovery is expected to take 6-8 months, making the decision for the organization to not give Ramos the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer an easy one. The deadline to extend the qualifying offer to Ramos was Monday at 5 p.m.

The late-season injury was a devastating one for Ramos and the team. He was set to become a free agent in a shallow market for catchers following his best season. The team lost one of its key hitters, thinning a lineup just before the postseason.

Nationals announce spring training schedule

The Nationals‘ first spring training game at its new facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, will be Feb. 28, 2017, against its new on-site partner, the Houston Astros.

Washington will play 33 games next spring. Moving to West Palm Beach from Viera, Florida., places the club much closer to other spring training foes. Often, the Nationals would have to go on multiple-hour bus rides to play at an opposing park.

The Nationals will begin their 2017 Grapefruit League slate with three road games, visiting the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida. on Feb. 25, the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, Florida. on Feb. 26, and the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida. on Feb. 27, before their the first game at their new field.

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