The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year deal with newly acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister, avoiding arbitration.
The #Nats have agreed to terms with RHP Doug Fister, avoiding arbitration.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 1, 2014
Fister will earn $7.2 million in 2014, plus an additional $100,000 if he reaches 200 innings. Today’s deal is good news for the Nationals, as for a while it seemed as though an arbitration hearing would be inevitable. On Jan. 17, the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures, Fister asked for $8.5 million and the Nationals offered $5.75 million.
#Nationals settled with Fister at $7.2M plus $100K for 200/210IP. Had asked for $8.5M, Wash offered $5.75M
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 1, 2014
Despite the significant separation in figures, general manager Mike Rizzo remained confident that the team would come to agreement with Fister and Tyler Clippard, who could still end up in a hearing.
“We had a pretty good strategy with our filing numbers. You’re talking about two players that are extremely important to us coming into 2014 and beyond. We certainly don’t like taking people into the [hearings] and if we can avoid that with a deal that makes sense for both guys, I would certainly like to do it,” Rizzo said in an interview with MLB Network’s ‘Hot Stove’ in January.
Fister will end up making a little more than the midpoint of the original figures, earning a significant raise from the $4 million he made with Detroit last season.
The Nationals have now avoided arbitration with nine players, with Tyler Clippard being the only one remaining. There’s a chance that Clippard and the Nationals won’t be able to come to terms before an arbitration hearing, as both sides appear to be far apart on figures. After he made $4 million last season, Clippard asked for $6.35 million and the Nationals offered $4.45 million.
Given how crucial Clippard has been for the Nationals the last few seasons, he will most likely get a number that he wants, whether it happens at a hearing or with a one-year deal before the hearings. Salary arbitration hearings begin today and will continue through Feb. 21. It is not known when Clippard’s hearing will take place. The sides have until the moment before they walk into the hearing room to come to an agreement.
While there is still some uncertainty with Clippard, avoiding arbitration with Fister was something Rizzo wanted to get done sooner rather than later, as hearings can sometimes create tensions between players and the front office. Fortunately for the Nationals, they’ll have one less thing to worry about this month and Fister can now focus solely on preparing for the 2014 season when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in two weeks.