Aug 6, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second basemanDanny Espinosa
(8) turns a double play over New York Mets first basemanLucas Duda
(21) in the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to Tuesday’s 11:59 pm ET deadline, the Washington Nationals tendered 2015 contracts to all 10 of their unsigned, arbitration-eligible players.
These players include pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Jerry Blevins, Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler, along with catchers Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton and infielder Danny Espinosa.
By tendering contracts to these players, the Nationals ensured that all 10 will remain on the team for the time being, though that does not necessarily mean they will be on the opening day roster.
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The fact that the Nationals elected to tender contracts is no surprise for most of the names on the list. However, there was some doubt as to whether or not the team would be willing to tender contracts to Detwiler and Espinosa, or instead release them and let them walk away via free agency.
Both Detwiler and Espinosa are coming off horrendous 2014 campaigns and neither player fits into the team’s longterm plans. Cutting one or both of them would have saved the Nationals some money, too, as Espinosa is expected to earn around $2 million in 2015 and Detwiler is expected to earn upwards of $3 million – a high price for a player that many – myself included – believe will not make the bullpen out of spring training.
But, as bad as they were last season, retaining Detwiler and Espinosa is the right move for the Nationals.
For starters, keeping them on board right now doesn’t mean they will be on the team next season. The Nationals may be able to use one or both players as pieces of a trade to acquire a second baseman, bench player or reliever this winter. If all else fails, the Nationals could cut one or both players during spring training and only have to pay a fraction of their salaries.
That being said, it’s possible that both Detwiler and Espinosa could actually help the Nationals in 2015.
Over the last few weeks, rumors have been swirling that the Nationals may be looking to trade Jordan Zimmermann and Fister – two players who are eligible for free agency next offseason. If either of these players is traded, Detwiler could provide some much-needed rotation depth.
While the Nationals are in the hunt for a second baseman, it should be noted that Espinosa is probably the only option at the position that the team has on the roster right now. If the Nationals fail to acquire an everyday second baseman via trade or free agency, Espinosa will likely get a chance to earn the starting job during spring training.
While questions remain for some of the players on the list, they are all set to be back with the Nationals next season and they will all be receiving raises of varying amounts. The Nationals will look to settle on 2015 salaries with each individual player and their representatives at some point this winter. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they’ll have to use MLB’s arbitration system to determine the players’ 2015 salaries.