The Nationals avoided going to arbitration with infield centerpiece Trea Turner ahead of Friday's 1 p.m. ET deadline to exchange salary figures. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported the sides agreed to a $7.45 million contract for 2020.
Signing Turner on Friday assured that the club evaded salary-arbitration hearings with all six of its eligible players after doing so twice before the 2019 season. After the club announced one-year deals with Michael A. Taylor on Thursday night -- for $3.325 million, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand -- and both Hunter Strickland and Wilmer Difo at the onset of December, on Friday it was Turner, Roenis Elias ($1.975 million, per multiple reports) and Joe Ross ($1.5 million, per multiple reports).
In Turner, the Nats lock up what they see as one of their franchise cornerstones. It’s not hard to see why, since the club’s return from the depths of 19-31 last season lined up almost exactly with the shortstop’s return from a broken right index finger. A Super Two player, Turner still has two years of arbitration eligibility after earning $3.725 million in 2019.
Ross’ role for 2020 is very much in the air. The 26-year-old, in his second year of arbitration eligibility, has the chance to compete for the fifth starter spot alongside fellow righties Erick Fedde and Austin Voth. Ross made $1 million in 2019.
Washington is still searching to find out what it has in Elías. The 2019 Trade Deadline acquisition pitched only three innings in a Nationals jersey last season after he hurt his right hamstring legging out a foul ball in his first appearance and dealing with other hamstring issues later in the season. He was put on the National League Championship Series roster -- but didn’t pitch -- and the club hopes the lefty can fill an important middle-relief role (along with Strickland) in ‘20. He made $910,000 in his first arbitration-eligible season last year.
Taylor, who turns 29 on Opening Day, is set to enter his seventh Major League season. He projects as outfield depth, and his 536 career games at the Major League level have made him a pretty seamless option to start should an injury arise. But the Nats could also trade him and slot in the cheaper Andrew Stevenson as the fourth outfielder, giving Taylor more playing time elsewhere. Taylor, who made $3.25 million last year, is also due a $25,000 bonus for 300 plate appearances in ‘20, per a source.