Nationals Arm Race

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Arbitration-eligible Salary Guesses; how close was I?


Morse's arbitration case (if it gets to that point) would be interesting. Photo Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network

Borrowing from my “Arbitration Tender Deadline” post from December 12th, here was my salary guesses for our seven Arbitration eligible players.  Note, this was obviously done prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade and included a theoretical salary guess for Doug Slaten, despite my (correct) prediction at the time that he’d be non-tendered:

Player Current or 2011 Contract 2011 2012 2012 guess
Clippard, Tyler 1 yr/$0.443M (11) $443,000 Arb 1 $1,700,000
Flores, Jesus 1 yr/$0.75M (11) $750,000 Arb 3 $800,000
Gorzelanny, Tom 1 yr/$2.1M (11) $2,100,000 Arb 3 $2,800,000
Lannan, John 1yr/2.75M (11) $2,750,000 Arb 2 $4,500,000
Morse, Michael 1 yr/$1.05M (11) $1,050,000 Arb 2 $3,900,000
Slaten, Doug 1 yr/$0.695M; (11) $695,000 Arb 3 $900,000
Zimmermann, Jordan 1 yr/$0.415M (11) $415,000 Arb 1 $1,800,000

This week, ahead of the salary exchanging deadline, we’ve seen the Nats re-sign a slew of their players.  How close was I to properly guessing the salaries of these players?

  • Tyler Clippard: re-signed but terms unknown as of 1/17/12.  My guess matches mostly what our beat reporters are guessing, but as of the time of this post we don’t know the exact terms.
  • Jesus Flores: guessed $800k, signed for $815k.  That’s pretty close, and slightly higher than I thought he’d get.  He gets a modest raise from the $750k he got for 2011.
  • Tom Gorzelanny: guessed 2.8M, he gets $2.7M.  Again, pretty close to guessing correctly, but still surprised he earned such a raise during a year when he went from starter to reliever.  That had to factor into the tempered number (a 2nd year starter in Gorzelanny’s situation probably would get something closer to Lannan’s figure).
  • John Lannan: guessed $4.5M, unsettled as of 1/17/12 so they submitted competing figures: $5M from the team, $5.7M from the player.  Wow; I really under-estimated what Lannan is worth.   If this went to arbitration, I’d have to think the team would win.
  • Michael Morse: guessed $3.9M, unsettled as of 1/17/12, so they submitted competing figures: $3.5M from the team, $5M from the player.  A massive gap; my number is closer to the team’s valuation and I think Morse has really overbid what he’s worth.  I think Morse loses an arbitration hearing (he made only $1M last year and certainly the concern would be that he’s a one-hit wonder).
  • Doug Slaten, as we all know, was non-tendered and recently signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh.  I’m not sure what the terms of that deal would be if he made the team but would guess its somewhere below the typical veteran minimum line of $800-$850k.
  • Jordan Zimmermann; guessed $1.8, he gets $2.3M in salary.  I was way off here; I guess I figured that his relative youth would keep the salary lower than it may have been otherwise.  This award bodes badly for the team for the next three years; if he’s at $2.3M now he’ll likely push close to $10M by the time he’s reaching his 4th time through.  A good problem to have, honestly.

One last player: Gio Gonzalez as we know was arbitration eligible but signed a 5 year deal late last week, buying out all his arbitration years plus the first couple free agency years.  $8M AAV is a decent club risk, and gets us a #2 level starter for about the same amount of money we were paying Jason Marquis off the open FA market.

I’m especially happy to see most of these cases settled prior to even exchanging figures.  The Lerners are clearly learning (no pun intended) from past arbitration cases that they serve little purpose but to alienate players over (in the grand scheme of things) pocket change.  Lets hope that they can find some middle ground on Lannan and Morse prior to needing to go before an arbitrator.

Written by Todd Boss

January 18th, 2012 at 10:37 am

5 Responses to 'Arbitration-eligible Salary Guesses; how close was I?'

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  1. One of the guarantees of going all the way to arbitration is the player is left a little bitter over how he’s been badmouthed by the team.
    Lannan’s going to settle, that one is easy.
    I wouldn’t blame Morse, however, for being pretty p.o.’d if he goes all the way to arbitration and loses. The best hitter on the team, by far. Being a late bloomer is really working against him.

    Mark L

    19 Jan 12 at 8:32 am

  2. Totally agree. I really hope the team settles with these two guys. You really hate to see it get to the arbitration case. By now I hope that Rizzo has instilled this fact into the Lerner’s heads, not to quibble over pocket change (in the grand scheme of things). I still believe that the primary reason Brian Bruney didn’t work out here is because the team went to fight him in arbitration before he ever threw a pitch for them and he was demoralized after losing.

    Todd Boss

    19 Jan 12 at 4:07 pm

  3. Great news. The Nats just extended Morse for 2 years, rendering our angst obslete, thankfully.

    Reminds me of a video of Morse in the Taiwan Series; it’s a Taiwanese feed when Morse hits a bomb. The announcer is chattering very fast as the ball goes deep, followed by a loud WOW.
    I guess WOW is good in many languages. 🙂

    Mark L

    20 Jan 12 at 5:30 pm

  4. With a solid 2012 season under his belt, it would not surprise me to see the organization start talks next winter with Zimmermann regarding some kind of contract extension – even if it’s just a deal to cover his remaining arbitration years and the first year of free agency (with a team option, perhaps). If he does follow the traditional arbitration path he’s likely to come in around $10 Million per season (as you said) and I think the organization is prepared for that, though an extension would held them manage around it (considering other salary raises that will start coming into play around that time).

    Aaron S.

    25 Jan 12 at 2:29 pm

  5. Yeah totally agree on Zimmermann; especially since he was a super-2, it makes financial sense for the team to try to offer him something that gives him financial satisfaction but also prevents year-to-year arguments over money. Lets say he puts in a season that’s something like 16-10 with a 3.10 era (probably not out of the realm of possible; he had a 2.53 era in 7 no decisions … so its fair to say he deserved some wins there). He’s getting 2.3M this year; is that kind of #2 starter on the open market worth $12M/year? If so its easy to see his next three arbitration figures go something like 4.8M, 7.2M and 9.6M. That equates to a 3yr, $22M deal. Think he’d sign that? Maybe put a bit more in there to get a club option at $11M or put in some incentives? I like that deal.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jan 12 at 10:07 pm

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