Arbitration Eligibles: Washington Nationals

The Nationals are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.

Lannan projects as the team's most expensive arbitration eligible player even without a raise.  It was a rough year for the 28-year-old, who lost his arbitration case in February, lost the team's fifth starter competition to Detwiler in April, requested a trade, and then remained in the organization to post pedestrian Triple-A numbers for most of his season.  A non-tender should cap off his year, which will at least lead to free agency and a fresh start.

Zimmermann is a mainstay atop the Nats' rotation, as the 26-year-old posted his best season with 195 2/3 innings of 2.94 ball in the regular season.  Comparables remain light among those with three to four years of big league service, especially since Zimmermann was a Super Two.  Perhaps a new extension comp will emerge among Max Scherzer, Matt Harrison, and Homer Bailey.  If not, I could picture $45MM over five years (two of them free agent seasons) for Zimmermann.  Detwiler, the team's first overall pick in the 2007 draft, did solid work at the back end of the Nationals' rotation prior to his first arbitration year.

The Nationals have four arbitration eligible relievers in Clippard, Storen, Gorzelanny, and Stammen.  When an elbow injury sidelined Storen in Spring Training, Clippard was initially denied a shot at closing in favor of Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge.  A larger committee took hold by late May, after which Clippard took hold of the job.  Storen was activated on July 19th, but Clippard still picked up 17 saves after that point and finished with 32.  The situation helped Clippard financially, as nothing earns bigger bucks for a reliever than saves.  As reliever salaries continue to rise, Clippard is still a good value at under $5MM.  Meanwhile, the abbreviated campaign and small saves total cost Storen some bucks in advance of his first arbitration year.  Gorzelanny and Stammen both had solid years and should also be retained.

Flores seemed like a trade candidate a year ago, but he received decent playing time in 2012 after starting catcher Wilson Ramos went down.  Flores didn't do much with his audition, and now Kurt Suzuki is projected to split time with Ramos in 2013.  A trade or non-tender is in Flores' future; like Lannan, he'll welcome the change of scenery.  Bernadina had a very strong season as a much-needed utility outfielder, and he'll be retained.

The Nationals' patience with Desmond paid off, as the shortstop had a breakthrough age 26 season.  Desmond played well in a sabermetric sense, but also had the surface numbers that pay well in arbitration (batting average, home runs, RBI, steals).  Since 2013 is his first arbitration year, he'll remain affordable at around $3.2MM.  The Nationals had preliminary extension talks with Desmond during the season, which will likely be rekindled soon.  Alexei Ramirez's $32.5MM extension with the White Sox could be a point of reference.

Assuming everyone except Lannan and Flores are retained, the Nationals are looking at an estimated $21.4MM for eight arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.  To see projected arbitration salaries for all players, click here.



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