As was reported by FOX Sports writer Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have declined to make arbitration offers to starting pitcher John Lannan, left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny, and catcher Jesus Flores. All three are now free agents, and able to sign with any team.
September 19, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher John Lannan (31) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
This comes as no surprise for Lannan and Flores. Lannan, now 28, started on Opening Day twice for the Nats, owns a career 4.01 ERA, and made $5 million last season, spent almost all of the season at AAA Syracuse. The team chose to go with Ross Detwiler over him for the fifth spot in the rotation, and he made only six major league starts, most of those coming as Stephen Strasburg‘s replacement at the end of the season. He would have received a raise from his salary this season through arbitration, and the Nationals were unwilling to pay that much for him to stay in AAA for another season. He was the second-longest tenured National, behind only Ryan Zimmerman, but now figures to draw interest from teams like the Royals and Mets.
Flores, also 28, came to the Nats as a Rule 5 draft pick from the Mets in 2007, the same season he made his MLB debut. He had been a fairly highly regarded prospect, but was 23 years old and still playing in A ball. He played decently in the majors, with a combined .252 average over his first two seasons. He was hitting .301 29 games into the 2009 season when he suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Repeated setbacks caused him to miss the entire 2010 season as well. He finally returned in 2011, but was not the same player, hitting .209 in 30 games. In 2012, he was given a chance to become the team’s number one catcher after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL in May, but failed to take advantage of that opportunity, hitting .213 in 83 games. With the acquisition of Kurt Suzuki from Oakland in August, Flores was made expendable. He made $815,000 last season, and would likely have received a similar or slightly higher amount in 2013. He has already drawn interest from the Mets, and figures to receive calls from a few other catcher-needy teams as well.
Gorzelanny’s non-tender came as a bit more of a surprise. He was acquired from the Cubs before the 2011 season in exchange for prospects Michael Burgess, A.J. Morris, and Graham Hicks. Burgess hit .259 as a 24-year-old in AA last season, the 26-year-old Morris missed all of the 2011 season with an injury but had a 2.24 ERA in 52.1 IP in High A last year, and Graham Hicks recently returned to the Nats as a minor league free agent. Gorzelanny was an effective reliever with the Nats, throwing to a 2.88 ERA in 72.0 IP last season, but made $4 million last season and was going to receive a raise, a hefty cost for a reliever. However, with Gorzelanny’s becoming a free agent, the Nationals now have no left-handed relievers on their roster. In addition to Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett and Mike Gonzalez are free agents, but the Nationals could conceivably re-sign all three, or sign any other free agent relievers in order to put lefties in their pen.