Nationals Pitchers With Major Incentives

The Nationals guaranteed over $22MM during the offseason to free agent pitchers, with the lion's share going to Jason Marquis.  But that total also includes three interesting signings, hurlers who scuffled in 2009 but had prior success.  Matt Capps, Chien-Ming Wang, and Scott Olsen were lured to Washington D.C. in part due to big-time incentive clauses.  Let's take a look.

  • Capps was non-tendered by the Pirates and drew interest from a dozen clubs.  It came down to the Nationals and Cubs, and Capps ultimately took a one-year, $3.5MM guarantee from the Nats.  They have the added bonus of controlling him in 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.  Capps' contract includes solid incentives for games finished – up to $425K.  He's already finished 16 games, tying Francisco Cordero for the MLB lead.  Capps should be able to max out his incentives this year and earn $3.925MM in total.
  • Wang signed for a $2MM base salary, and he's also arbitration-eligible after the season.  His incentives exceed his base, as he can tack on $3MM.  Wang is recovering from shoulder surgery and hasn't headed out on a rehab assignment quite yet, so it appears he won't max out his incentives.
  • If you blinked, you might've missed Scott Olsen's time as a free agent.  After earning $2.8MM in '09, Olsen was non-tendered on the December 10th deadline.  The Nats scooped him back up on the 13th with a $1MM base salary.  Olsen can earn $2.825MM in incentives based on starts, up to 33.  The 26-year-old southpaw is making over $85K extra per start.  He's already made five, and sports a 3.54 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9.  Like the others, the Nationals control Olsen for 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.  If he continues looking like the Olsen of '06, another non-tender is out of the question.

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