Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Its Arbitration day! Review of our 4 cases plus some Arb case history


Hopefully Bryce and his new bride Kayla didn't have to go through arbitration either.  Photo via's instagram

Hopefully Bryce and his new bride Kayla didn’t have to go through arbitration either. Photo via’s instagram

The Nats have 4 remaining players who are arbitration eligible but whom the team has not yet signed for 2017 (they signed Jose Lobaton to a $1.575M deal, slightly below MLBTradeRumors’ estimate.

Here’s who they have left, what they made in 2016 and what MLBTradeRumors (which is usually pretty accurate) projects for 2017:

PlayerCurrent or 2016 Contract2017 status2014201520162017 my guessmlbtraderumors estimate
Harper, Bryce2yr/$7.5M (15-16)Arb3215000025000005000000100000009300000
Rendon, Anthony1 yr/$2.8M (16)Arb218000001800000280000060000006400000
Lobaton, Jose1 yr/$1.3875M (16)Arb49500001200000138750015750001600000
Roark, Tanner1 yr/$0.543M (16)Arb150610052960054340050000006100000
Norris, Derek1yr/$2.925M (16)Arb2292500040000004000000

I think the team will pay slightly more than the projection for Bryce Harper (hopefully signing a 2-year deal to take him to FA), will pay Derek Norris the projected value ($4M exactly seems like a nice number), slightly less than the projection for Anthony Rendon and slightly less for Tanner Roark under the guise that he will continue to be under-rated for what he provides.  I may be completely wrong.  Lets just hope they actually SIGN the players and don’t go to arbitration.


Here’s a sordid history of all Arbitration cases going back to the Nats origin in 2005.

YearTeamPlayerPlayer FigureClub FigureDeltaWinnerStill with club (as of end of that particular season)Depart club THAT year?Player Status with Arguing team as of end of that season
2016HoustonJason Castro52500005000000250000clubCurrent YrCurrent YrCurrent Yr
2016TorontoJesse Chavez40000003600000400000playerCurrent YrCurrent YrCurrent Yr
2016CincinnatiJ.J. Hoover14000001225000175000playerCurrent YrCurrent YrCurrent Yr
2016Tampa BayDrew Smyly37500003200000550000playerCurrent YrCurrent YrCurrent Yr
2015BaltimoreAlejandro De Aza56500005000000650000clubNoYesTraded mid-2015 season
2015SeattleTom Wilhelmsen22000001400000800000ClubNoNoPlayed out season, traded post 2015 season
2015AtlantaMike Minor56000005100000500000playerNoNoPlayed out season, FA post 2015 season
2015ArizonaMark Trumbo690000053000001600000playerNoYesTraded mid-2015 season
2015PittsburghPedro Alvarez57500005250000500000playerNoNoPlayed out season, non-tendered post 2015 season
2015ColoradoWilin Rosario33000002800000500000clubNoNoPlayed out season, FA post 2015 season
2015TorontoJosh Donaldson575000043000001450000clubYesNoStill active
2015MiamiDavid Phelps18750001400000475000clubYesNoStill active
2015WashingtonJerry Blevins24000002200000200000playerNoYesTraded before the season even began
2015PittsburghVance Worley24500002000000450000playerNoNowaived just after 2015 season ended
2015PittsburghNeil Walker900000080000001000000ClubNoNoTraded post 2015 season but played entire 2015 year w/ Pittsburgh
2015OaklandJarrod Parker1700000850000850000ClubYesNoStill active; long term injuries
2015TorontoDanny Valencia16750001200000475000PlayerNoYeswaived mid-season
2015MiamiMat Latos1040000094000001000000ClubNoYesTraded mid-season in salary dump
2014ClevelandJosh Tomlin975000800000175000ClubYesnore-signed 2015, avoided arbitration
2014ClevelandVinnie Pestano1450000975000475000ClubNoYesTraded mid 2014
2014San DiegoAndrew Cashner24000002275000125000PlayerYesnore-signed 2015, avoided arbitration
2012MiamiAnibal Sanchez800000069000001100000PlayerNoYesTraded to Detroit mid-2012 season
2012WashingtonJohn Lannan57000005000000700000ClubNoYesNon-tendered pre-2013 season, signed w/ Philadelphia
2012MilwaukeeJose Veras23750002000000375000ClubNoYesFA after 2012 season (unsure if non-tendered or not)
2012MiamiEmilio Bonifacio22000001950000250000PlayerNoYesTraded to Toronto post-2012 season
2012BaltimoreBrad Bergesen1200000800000400000ClubNoYesWaived mid-2012 season
2012Tampa BayJeff Niemann32000002750000450000ClubNoNoResigned for 2013, DFA'd post-2013 season (injured), refused AAA assignment, FA
2012PittsburghGarrett Jones25000002250000250000ClubNoNoResigned for 2013, FA after 2013 season
2011HoustonHunter Pence690000051500001750000PlayerNoYesTraded to Philadelphia mid 2011 season
2011PittsburghRoss Ohlendorf20250001400000625000PlayerNoYesReleased after 2011 season
2011Los Angeles AngelsJered Weaver880000073650001435000ClubYesNoSigned long term deal after 2011 season
2010MiamiCody Ross44500004200000250000PlayerNoYesWaived mid-2010 season
2010Chicago CubsRyan Theriot34000002600000800000ClubNoYesTraded mid-2010 to Los Angeles
2010WashingtonBrian Bruney18500001500000350000ClubNoYesReleased May 2010
2010HoustonWandy Rodriguez700000050000002000000ClubNoNoTraded mid 2012 to Pittsburgh
2010MilwaukeeCorey Hart48000004150000650000PlayerNoNoSigned extension to 2013, got hurt, FA after 2013
2010Tampa BayBJ Upton33000003000000300000ClubNoNoFA after 2012 season, signed elsewhere
2010Los Angeles AngelsJeff Mathis1300000700000600000PlayerNoNoTraded post-2011 season to Toronto
2010WashingtonSean Burnett925000775000150000ClubNoNoleft as FA post 2012 season
2009WashingtonShawn Hill775000500000275000PlayerNoYesReleased March 2009 before salary even kicked in
2009MiamiDan Uggla53500004400000950000PlayerNoNoTraded post-2010 season to Atlanta
2009Tampa BayDioner Navarro25000002100000400000ClubNoNonon-tendered post-2010 season
2008Los Angeles AngelsFrancisco Rodriguez12500000100000002500000ClubNoYesFA after 2008 season, signed elsewhere
2008ColoradoBrian Fuentes650000050500001450000ClubNoYesGranted FA after 2008 season, signed elsewhere
2008WashingtonFelipe Lopez52000004900000300000ClubNoYesReleased July 2008
2008HoustonMark Lorretta490000027500002150000ClubNoYesleft as FA after one year (why did he go to arbitration? Odd)
2008PhiladelphiaRyan Howard1000000070000003000000PlayerYesNoSigned 3-year deal after 2008 season, longer term after that
2008New York MetsOliver Perez650000047250001775000PlayerNoNoFA after 2008 but re-signed 3 year deal w/ NY
2008HoustonJose Valverde620000047000001500000ClubNoNosigned one more year, FA
2008New York YankeesChien-Ming Wang46000004000000600000ClubNoNoGranted FA after 2009 season (hurt)
2007MiamiMiguel Cabrera74000006700000700000PlayerNoYesTraded after 2007 season
2007San DiegoTodd Walker395000027500001200000PlayerNoYesReleased March 2007 before salary even kicked in
2007WashingtonJohn Patterson18500008500001000000ClubNoYesReleased March 2007 before salary even kicked in
2007WashingtonChad Cordero41500003650000500000PlayerNoNosigned on one more year, DFA'd refused assignment, FA
2007Los Angeles DodgersJoe Beimel1250000912500337500ClubNoNosigned for one more year, FA
2007Tampa BayJosh Paul940000625000315000ClubNoNoFA after 2007, signed ML deal with Tampa again, didn't make team
2007MiamiKevin Gregg700000575000125000ClubNoNoTraded after 2008 season
2006WashingtonAlfonso Soriano12000000100000002000000ClubNoYeswas in last year of arb anyway; left via FA
2006BaltimoreRodrigo Lopez45000003750000750000ClubNoYestraded after 2006 season to Colorado
2006MinnesotaKyle Lohse39500003400000550000PlayerNoYesTraded mid 2006 to Cincinnati
2006ColoradoSun-Woo "Sunny" Kim800000600000200000ClubNoYestraded at the end of 2006
2006Kansas CityEmil Brown17750001400000375000PlayerNoNoleft as FA after 2007 season
2006Tampa BayJosh Paul750000475000275000ClubNoNowent to arb again in 2007
2005OaklandJuan Cruz860000600000260000ClubNoYestraded after 2005 season to Arizona
2005MinnesotaKyle Lohse24000002150000250000PlayerNoNowent to arb again in 2006
2005Kansas CityJeremy Affeldt1200000950000250000ClubNoNoTraded mid 2006 to Colorado

Some interesting factoids about this history (all numbers up to last  year’s pre-2016 season cases).

  • Records: Clubs are 28/45 (62%), players are 17/45 (38%)
  • Washington leading “arguing” club with 8 of 45 cases since 2005.  Now, many of those cases were under the prior regime/Lerners are cheap mantra, but Mike Rizzo has done his fair share of petty arguing, taking Sean Burnett to arbitration over $150,000 and most recently Jerry Blevins over $200k.
  • 42% of all cases since 2005 by just 3 clubs, and Washington is the leader in this sorry category with 8 cases since 2005.
  • 12 of 30 clubs in the game havn’t had an arb argument since 2005.  In other words, 12 of the 30 teams get the fact that these things suck.
  • Smallest amount argued over: $125k by Miami in 2007 and $150K by Wash in 2010 w/ Burnett
  • Largest amount argued over: $3M by Philadelphia w/ Ryan Howard (player won)
  • Biggest player demand: Francisco Rodriguez $12,500,000 (player lost)
  • Biggest club offer ($10M twice; both club wins)
  • Just 2 of 45 players who have argued arb cases remain with their teams to 2015.  None of the 2016 arb cases remain with their teams at this point in the off-season.
  • 23 of 45 players who argued w/ their clubs were traded or released THAT same season.  This is pretty damning evidence that clubs “hold it against” players (or vice versa) for these cases.


10 Responses to 'Its Arbitration day! Review of our 4 cases plus some Arb case history'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Its Arbitration day! Review of our 4 cases plus some Arb case history'.

  1. Harper: $13.625 million, apparently as part of a handshake agreement over the deal last season, well above what was expected. Guess he needed a little extra to cover the wedding. Is it too much to hope that it’s also a little grease to stay in the conversation for an extension?

    Rendon: $5.8 million; Roark: $4.315 million; Norris: $4.2 million. Rendon’s is a little less than expected, but fair. Roark gets a big bump from just above the minimum but nevertheless is still a huge bargain. And Norris gets what the system says he should get, which is a joke considering how awful he was last year. I’m sorry, but if you post close to league-worst numbers, you should revert close to the minimum. But that’s not the way the system works.

    So Todd, where do the Nats stand now in their overall salary number? How much do you think Rizzo still has left to spend?


    13 Jan 17 at 3:11 pm


    Boom: Harper for $13.625M, Rendon for $5.8M. Harper WAY above mlbtraderumors estimate. Rendon below even my estimate. Roark well below even my estimate at 4.315, while Norris slightly above MLBtraderumor’s estimate at 4.2.

    All told, this puts the Nats aboutr $2M over MLBtraderumors projection for their arb cases, and i’ve now got their 2017 payroll at $141,582,929 (not their luxury tax number, which is significantly higher).

    Todd Boss

    13 Jan 17 at 3:12 pm


    I had to laugh at Zuckerman’s story here: he says “The Nationals have gone to only 12 arbitration hearings in 12 seasons.” That’s like 25% of all the cases in the majors during that time!! How can he use the word “only” there?

    Todd Boss

    13 Jan 17 at 3:19 pm

  4. The Nats were at $145M last season and $162M in 2015, which by most accounts was higher than the Lerners wanted to be. So . . . . . . the guess would be that the number this year would be around $150M. If so, I don’t think that leaves enough to get both Drew and Holland. If either or both are still in play, all things considered, I’d rather have Drew.

    And I still want them to trade Michael Taylor! If he’s on the bench, Dusty will play him, and possibly even bat him lead-off. He can’t help himself.


    13 Jan 17 at 3:44 pm

  5. Hollands request right now is a joke; no surprise thr Nats aren’t biting. Anything less than a 2 year deal would be stupid for any club.

    Drew wants to start and the only opening is the Dodgers and right now they don’t want him. The Nats are just waiting for him to relent.

    Mark L

    13 Jan 17 at 5:31 pm

  6. Tyson Ross to the Rangers. At least the Cubs didn’t get him. The back end of the Cub rotation is still suspect. I had some faint hope that the Nats would get in on Ross, and $6M isn’t bad at all for him, much less than the $9-10M he was said to be seeking. I would much rather have paid $6M to Ross than to Holland.

    Mark, I agree that Holland’s desire for a two-year contract AND an opt-out is nuts (heads I win/tails you lose). Boras is just seeing if anyone is crazy enough to bite, I guess. As for Drew, if any team was going to sign him to start, it should have happened by now. Yeah, maybe he’s holding out for the Dodgers, but Utley has always seemed like the fall-back option there. We’ll see.

    I’m not in the tank for Drew. Of the INFs remaining, though, the only ones who can play SS and actually sorta hit are Drew and Aybar. I don’t see Difo as anything more than a AAA emergency reserve at this point. They have to improve on him.

    There are still a lot of guys available, and it’s mid-January. The prices have to start dropping at some point, right? There are guys out there who could improve the Nat bench like Valbuena, Logan Morrison, or Moss, but only at the right price. One would think that Valbuena and Moss have been among those hoping to land a starting gig as well, in addition to a starter salary. Time to get realistic, guys.


    13 Jan 17 at 9:12 pm

  7. Even with a questionable #5 starter right now I have the Cubs as the best rotation in the game. If the Mets quartet could guarantee some healthiness they’d be #1. Once all the moves shake out I’ll publish my personal rankings …

    These player optoins are all the rage; indeed they’re 100% player friendly. I guess its just a balance versus the badly negotiated CBA.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jan 17 at 10:15 pm

  8. Kw & Todd, I just think that contract the Rangers gave Ross is plain stupid. At best, he might be useful in August & Sept.
    Kudos to Rizzo for saying no.

    As for Holland, Boras is always looking for the fool. Bad for him the Angels are tapped out.

    Valbueno would be great for the Nats if he wants to be a utility guy.

    Lets stop badmouthing Michael Taylor, the potential for greatness is still there. Might be with another club, but there is still a chance.

    Mark L

    13 Jan 17 at 11:23 pm

  9. Taylor strikes out at one of the worst rates in MLB. If there’s a story of a player at this stage of his career radically improving his K rate/plate discipline, I haven’t heard it. It’s just hard to anticipate much improvement after seven pro seasons. The same goes for Taylor’s terrible baserunning and low walk rate. He supposedly has power, but in more than a full season’s worth of MLB plate appearances, his HR rate is less than 20 a year. Yes, he’s fast and has power, but there’s little evidence that those “tools” have translated into a quality major-league baseball player.

    Cub rotation: they have two established stars in Lester and Arrieta. The other guys just pitched out of their minds last year. Lackey will be hard-pressed to repeat what he did at age 38. I still have trouble believing that Hendricks is such a stud, but he may be. Giving Hendricks the benefit of the doubt, they’re still vulnerable at the back end with Lackey and Montgomery.


    14 Jan 17 at 8:30 am

  10. OK, let’s try to get something going here in the midst of the painful lack of news. I’ve been negative about Holland in the earlier (and more expensive) signing period, but I wonder where his price is now. I also wonder whether he’s picked up a couple of MPH on his heater since his showcase. I wonder if scouts have been allowed another look. Anyway, if a quality starter like Ross with injury concerns got $6M (plus incentives), the price for a wounded reliever should be less than $6M, right?

    If the price from Holland is getting down to around $5M, I’m starting to get interested. At that price, there also wouldn’t be the pressure to make him the closer right away, which I don’t think he could do anyway. With him, I think the best hope would be that he get healthier through the summer and is getting close to his old self by Aug.-Sept. I wasn’t going to pay 1/$10M for him, but I’d think about 1/$5M, or even 2/$10M. At that rate, they’d still have money for a bench bat or two.

    However, would the money be better spent on a righty like Holland, or a lefty like Logan, who presumably is looking for just about as much? I don’t think the Nats can spend that much apiece on two relievers, so who would you rather have?


    16 Jan 17 at 7:56 am

Leave a Reply