District Daily: Nationals avoid arbitration with Espinosa, Lobaton, Stammen


Sep 9, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman

Danny Espinosa

(8) throws to first base during the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Washington Nationals defeated against the Atlanta Braves 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals made headlines the last couple of days for trading Tyler Clippard to the Athletics in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar, but that deal wasn’t the only thing on the team’s todo list this week.

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Prior to Thursday, the Nationals had eight players eligible for arbitration with today’s deadline to exchange salary figures coming up fast. Last night, however, the team agreed to one-year deals with Wilson Ramos, Craig Stammen, Danny Espinosa, and Jose Lobaton to avoid arbitration.

Ramos’s deal, which we wrote about last night, is for $3.55 million. Stammen signed for $2.25 million, Espinosa signed for $1.8 million and Lobaton signed for $1.2 million.

Here are the deals as they were reported by Comcast Sportsnet’s Mark Zuckerman and Fox Sports’s Jon Morosi:

Espinosa, 27, looked better with the bat last season than he did in 2013, but his dreadful .219 batting average was way below what the Nationals would like to see from him. With the Escobar deal filling the Nationals’ hole at second base, Espinosa will almost certainly be back on the bench in 2015.

Lobaton, 30, did a great job as the Nationals’ backup catcher in 2014 and developed a great relationship with the team’s starting pitchers. While Lobaton’s bat isn’t as powerful as Ramos’s, he’s still a critical part of the team since Ramos has proven to be injury-prone the last few years and regularly misses extended time on the disabled list.

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Stammen, 30, is coming off yet another solid season in the Nationals’ bullpen, posting a 3.84 ERA in 49 relief appearances.

The right-hander has been a reliable presence in the Nationals’ bullpen for years, and could play an even more important  role with the team in 2015. While Stammen has been almost exclusively a long reliever the last few years, he could have a chance to take over the eighth inning role, which used to belong to Clippard.

With four players down, the Nationals’ only remaining arbitration-eligible players are pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Jerry Blevins and Drew Storen.