The Nationals announced that they’ve declined their 2016 options on right-hander Casey Janssen and outfielder Nate McLouth. Washington will pay a $1.5MM buyout on Janssen’s $7MM mutual option, whereas McLouth will receive a $750K buyout on his $6.5MM club option. James Wagner of the Washington Post first reported (via Twitter) that Janssen’s option would be bought out, though the move isn’t surprising on the heels of a disappointing year for the former Toronto closer.
Janssen, who turned 34 in September, signed a one-year, $5MM contract with the Nationals last winter that contained the $7MM mutual option which was bought ought today. The former closer opened the season on the disabled list due to tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, which subsequently limited him to 40 innings of work this year. In those 40 frames, Janssen tallied just a 4.95 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a career-low 29.4 percent ground-ball rate. His fastball velocity, which registered between 91 and 92 mph at Janssen’s peak with the Jays, sat an average of just 88.5 mph this year.
Last season, Janssen struggled tremendously in the second half after coming down with a dreadful case of food poisoning that caused him to lose eight pounds in less than 12 hours. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that he spent two days on an IV to regain fluid in his body and then proceeded to pitch on five of the next eight days for Toronto. The hope was that an offseason of regular rest and workouts would get him back to the form he displayed from 2011-13 when he compiled a 2.46 ERA in 172 innings of work despite Toronto’s hitter-friendly home environs, but he instead was another piece to an underwhelming bullpen that served as one of a disappointing D.C. team’s greatest flaws.
As for McLouth, who turned 34 in late October, the 2015 season was a lost cause. He spent the year recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and didn’t appear in a game. That’s obviously not the way that the Nationals or McLouth hoped to see his two-year, $10.75MM contract end — especially considering the fact that shoulder woes limited him to a .173/.280/.237 batting line in just 162 plate appearances for the 2014 club. Given the injuries to Denard Span this season, a healthy McLouth would’ve served as a valuable depth piece for since-dismissed manager Matt Williams, but McLouth will instead likely be looking at a minor league deal this offseason as he hopes to make a roster in Spring Training and restore some value with a healthy 2016 season.