Nationals tender contracts to all arb-eligible players
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals tendered contracts to all their arbitration-eligible players: Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos, Craig Stammen, Danny Espinosa, Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, Drew Storen and Jose Lobaton.
The Nationals had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday to tender contracts to those players. Blevins, who made $1.6 million this past season, arguably had the worst year of his career and it looked like he could be taken off the playoff roster, but he figured it out in his final five games and appeared in the National League Division Series against the Giants.
Detwiler, who made $3 million in 2014, spent most of the season as a long man. In his first year in the bullpen, Detwiler had an up-and-down season, going 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 47 games.
Clippard, who made more than $5 million as a setup man, is in his last year of arbitration eligibility and coming off a great season. In 75 games, Clippard had a 2.18 ERA while opponents hit .188 against him. There has been talk that Clippard could be trade bait this month. He is eligible to be a free agent after the 2015 season and already said he would like to be a closer in the future.
The Nationals still believe in Espinosa even though he has struggled mightily at the plate the last two years. It helps that he is an excellent defender at second base. The team is thinking about making Espinosa a right-handed hitter exclusively. In 2014, Espinosa, a switch-hitter, hit over .300 from the right side of the plate.
Fister led the Nationals in victories with 16, even though he missed the first month of the season with a lat strain. He, too, has been mentioned as trade bait.
Stammen is arguably Washington's most valuable reliever. He can pitch as a long man or in a setup role. In 49 games, Stammen had a 3.84 ERA.
The Opening Day starter the last three seasons, Strasburg is in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He is coming off arguably his best season, winning 14 games and leading the NL with 242 strikeouts.
Storen is in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and he recaptured the closer's role the last month of the season, saving 10 games without allowing an earned run.
Ramos had an injury-plagued 2014 season and played in only 88 games. He is in his second year of arbitration eligibility as well.
Lobaton was a valuable backup catcher this past season. He had a great rapport with Strasburg and Fister in particular. Nationals pitchers had a 2.86 ERA when he was behind the plate.