The Nationals are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:
Eligible For Free Agency (6)
- Edwin Jackson - It would make sense for the Nationals to make Jackson a qualifying offer after the season, assuming his strong year continues. If he accepts, they have a capable starter in his prime on a reasonable one-year deal. If he declines, they obtain draft pick compensation.
- Chien-Ming Wang - It's hard to imagine more than an incentive-based short-term contract for Wang next winter, even if he pitches well after his minor league rehab assignment ends.
- Brad Lidge - Lidge last pitched on April 21st and remains on the disabled list as he recovers from hernia surgery.
- Rick Ankiel - There's an expectation that the Nationals will look for a long-term answer in center field after the season, when Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton hit free agency. Even so, the Nationals could have interest in bringing Ankiel back for another season.
- Chad Tracy - Tracy will probably be looking at minor league offers this coming offseason.
- Xavier Nady - Until the core of the Nationals' 2013 lineup has been established, it'll be hard to say whether Nady fits on the team's bench.
Contract Options (2)
- Adam LaRoche: $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout. LaRoche seems to have returned to form, so the Nationals could look to retain him in 2013. However, Michael Morse would presumably be bumped to first base if the Nationals sign a center fielder.
- Sean Burnett: $3.5MM mutual option with a $250K buyout. Burnett doesn't obtain buyout if he declines option. I can see the Nationals picking up their half of this mutual option.
Arbitration Eligible (10)
- First time: Ian Desmond, Drew Storen, Roger Bernadina, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen
- Second time: Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard
- Third time: John Lannan
- Fourth time: Tom Gorzelanny, Jesus Flores
Desmond, Storen and Detwiler lead a large class of first-time eligible players. Zimmermann, Clippard and Gorzelanny can also look forward to raises this coming offseason, but Lannan will surely be non-tendered if he's still on Washington's roster in December. The Nationals saved themselves millions by delaying Stephen Strasburg's MLB debut in 2010; he will miss the cutoff for super two eligibility by a couple of weeks.
2013 Payroll Obligation
The Nationals, who have a $92MM payroll this year, have committed $52MM to next year's team. That should leave GM Mike Rizzo with approximately $40MM to deal with the team's arbitration eligible players and sign free agents. The Nationals have steadily raised payroll under the ownership of Ted Lerner and it wouldn't be surprising to see payroll climb again in 2013.