We’re less than three weeks away from Nationals pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla. Position players report five days later. The season is creeping up. It just doesn’t feel that way, not with the unprecedented number of high-profile free agents and trade possibilities still out there. The stove will eventually ignite, if not explode. Chances are Washington will play a part.

The Nationals don’t need to acquire another major leaguer before Opening Day. They re-signed Brandon Kintzler to pitch the seventh inning. They signed Matt Adams and Howie Kendrick to fill their bench. They have options for the fifth spot in their starting rotation. They are National League East favorites with their current projected roster, and acquiring help during the season is always an option.

But the Nationals have a history of pouncing late when they deem the price right. Just last year, when the offseason wasn’t nearly as dormant, the Nationals signed three players — Adam Lind, Joe Blanton and Matt Wieters — in mid-February. All three were on the Opening Day roster. They were upgrades, not obvious needs. Washington had Clint Robinson as its backup first baseman before Lind arrived. Derek Norris had been acquired to start at catcher just a couple months earlier before Wieters joined. Blanton was an additional piece for the bullpen.

This year is a little different because the Nationals’ projected payroll is already roughly $3 million over the competitive balance tax threshold of $197 million. Every dollar spent over that $197 million mark comes with a 30 percent tax, which is the penalty for exceeding the CBT for a second straight season. Last season, Washington paid a 20 percent tax, which amounted to less than $1 million.