Ross, Nationals agree to one-year deal

December 4th, 2020

The Nationals have spots to address in their starting rotation ahead of the 2021 season, and they found a potential answer to one of them on Tuesday.

Right-hander agreed to a one-year contract with the Nationals, the club announced on Tuesday. A source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the deal is worth $1.5 million.

“I expect myself to be as competitive as ever,” Ross said on Friday. “I usually have very high expectations for myself.”

Ross, who elected not to play in 2020, is entering his sixth Major League season. He had accrued enough service time to be eligible for arbitration the third time this year. Since he did not earn service time in '20, in which he was set to earn $1.5 million, he remains arbitration-eligible next year. (Players were paid a full prorated portion of their '20 salary based on games played, which was equal to approximately 37 percent for the full season.)

Had Ross played in 2020, he would have become a free agent after ‘21. Because he did not, he will enter free agency following the ‘22 season, assuming he accrues full service time in ‘21 and ‘22.

“The only time in the past you could ever drag me off the field was if I literally couldn’t throw a baseball,” Ross said. “So to sideline myself was a little different this year, and kind of made me appreciate what baseball does give me during the season. ... It was a tough decision, but it makes Spring Training 2021 that much more exciting for myself. I’m excited to get it going again.”

Ross, 27, emerged as the top candidate for the Nats’ fifth starter spot in 2020 after a standout Spring Training, which included a spotless ERA in his first two outings. He previously had shared the role with Erick Fedde and Austin Voth, and he made a spot start on short notice for Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the ‘19 World Series.

Voth beat out Fedde for the fifth starter’s job, but he struggled his first year in the full-time role (2-5, 6.34 ERA). At the end of the season, it remained uncertain how the Nationals would address Voth’s No. 5 spot and the No. 4 spot, held by Aníbal Sánchez (4-5, 6.62 ERA), who also had a rocky season before becoming a free agent.

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With potential opportunities, Ross’ goals for 2021 remain unchanged from last season.

“Still competing for a starting spot,” he said. “I don’t think the extra time off for myself is really a disadvantage. I know it’s easier to get back into the swing of things when you have less time off, but I’ve always been confident in myself and my abilities.”

Ross is 21-17 with a 3.91 ERA over 313 innings in 57 career games as a starter. He also has thrown 22 1/3 frames (0-2, 9.67 ERA) in relief.