Nationals Arm Race

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Nats GM for a day Part 1: the Arbitration cases

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Photo Courtesy of Jeff Saffelle/Nats320 Blog

MLB’s beat writer Bill Ladson kicked off the National’s offseason with a post summarizing the Nat’s major off season personnel decisions (free agents to be and Arbitration candidates).  The Nats have a relatively large number of arbitration decisions to make, as well as a few free agents.

Next up, the Arbitration cases.  We have a number of them.  In relative order of salary expectations:

Player What Should Washington Do?/What WILL We do?
Willingham, Josh Tender; valuable trade chip in 2011.
Wang, Chien-Ming Non-tender and negotiate one year deal (ala Olsen in 2010).  Can’t pay arb raise for zero production in 2010, despite what he’s capable of.
Olsen, Scott Non-Tender; usefulness to the team in terms of production and character at an end.
Burnett, Sean Tender: and please don’t fight him for a few dollars after his great 2010
Flores, Jesus Tender: may end up being trade bait to a needy team since we have Ramos and Pudge plus Norris coming up.
Nieves, Wil Non-Tender; we’re finally after 2 years in a decent catcher position in the franchise.
Walker, Tyler Non-Tender; perhaps offer ML deal with ST invite.  Other arms that can do what he did in the system for less.  11/4/10 update: Nats have flat out released him.
Lannan, John Tender: Nats #2 starter in 2011.
Gonzalez, Alberto Tender: Achieved super2 status.  Tough call though since he wants to leave and get a starting opportunity.  Nats need him as a backup for at least one more season though til guys like Lombardozzi are ready.
Slaten, Doug Tender: great job in 2010 as loogy.
Peralta, Joel Tender: Despite being FA, only has 4+ yrs of MLB service.   Was fantastic for us in 2010 and need to keep

Amazingly Ladson thinks Willingham is a non-tender candidate.  Uh, why would we possibly do that?  He was as solid a #5 hitter as there was when he was healthy, he’s a great clubhouse guy and contributes well above his salary.  Other clear tenders include Burnett, Flores and Lannan.

Olsen, Nieves and Walker are clearly guys that we do NOT tender contracts to.  Each for different but well documented reasons.  11/6/10 Update: Olsen assigned to AAA and refused the assignment, becoming a FA.

The difficult decisions lay with the other arbitration candidates.  With Wang i’d try to appeal to his (agent’s) sense of fairness and pre-negotiate an incentive laden contract, based on the lack of a single game played for his $2M in salary last year.  Perhaps a contract of $1M plus incentives based on number of starts that push the total value to $3M if he makes more than 25 starts.  Alberto Gonzalez has apparently reached Super2 Status and we a may have an arbitration case coming, if only because Gonzalez has stated he wants a chance to start.  The problem Alberto doesn’t seem to realize is that he’s an awful hitter, putting up a 57 ops+ in about 200 ABs last year.  He’s a classic good field-no hit dominican middle infielder and I doubt he finds many suitors on the trade market.  Lastly we come to Slaten and Peralta.  Both guys were minor league FAs for us in 2010 and both pitched lights out after getting called up to fill in for injuries and poor performers (basically replacing English and Bergmann).  Are they worth tendering and paying more money or do you cut them loose and take your chances with the next crop of minor leaguers coming up?  I say stick with the known (i.e., a fantastic bullpen last year) and bring them back.

Next up, two guys who may or may not have achieved Arbitration status.  Cots and baseball-america don’t necessarily agree.

Chico, Matt Not sure if he’s truly achieved Arbitration status yet.  Cots says yes.  If Arb eligible, Tender a contract.  AAA rotation
Morse, Michael May not have achieved Arbitration yet.  If Arb eligible, absolutely Tender.  MLB utility infielder.

Even though Chico seems like he’s buried in AAA, he’s still a lefty starter with a somewhat decent track record who gave us one decent spot-start this year.  Morse I’m more excited for.  I believe that Morse could be a hidden gem of a starter for us if given the time.  He hit 15 homers in 293 ABs, which projects to 30 homers over a full season.  He’s athletic (played shortstop in HS and in his MLB debut season) and can clearly play all around the diamond.  Clearly he can play first base since he’s 6’5″ and is a reformed middle infielder.  If Dunn walks, I can easily see Morse playing 1st and Bernadina playing RF (barring no FA pickups).

Next up; the Free Agents…

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  1. [...] our first of a 3-part post, we talked about the arbitration cases that the Nats face.  Some of those [...]

  2. [...] of reviews on the Nat’s 2010 season ending roster with analysis of what we should do.  Part I was a discussion of our Arbitration candidates while Part II was a discussion about Free Agents [...]

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