Though details were not available, the Washington Nationals announced tonight just moments after the midnight deadline to tender contracts to or non-tender arbitration eligible players, that they had agreed to terms with catcher Jesus Flores and infielder Alberto Gonzalez and decided to non-tender pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Joel Peralta and catcher Wil Nieves, allowing the three to become free agents. There were 10 players on the list that the Nats had to make decisions about tonight. The Nats tendered contracts to outfielders Josh Willingham and Mike Morse, starter John Lannan, and bullpen arms Sean Burnett and Doug Slaten.
Flores, 26, who returned from a stress fracture and torn labrum in his right shoulder to play in the Florida Instructional League and Venezuelan Winter League late this year, after the injuries cost the one-time NY Mets' prospect (taken by the Nats in the '06 Rule 5 Draft) most of two seasons following a promising start to the 2009 campaign which saw the then-24-year-old backstop (who'd chased Paul LoDuca out of town and claimed the starting job as his own in 2008), begin his first year as the next Nats' catcher by hitting .301 with a .371 OBP and a .505 SLG over the first 29 games and 93 at bats before the injury. Alberto Gonzalez, who's likely intending on pushing Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa for playing time since he thinks he should be a starter, returns to the Nats' infield, though he's likely going to end up in another bench role after posting a .247/.277/.301 slash line in part-time action last year.
Chien-Ming Wang has been a source of some debate with many wondering whether or not he'll return after a year rehabbing with the Nats, who are also rumored to be interested in right-handed former D-Backs' starter Brandon Webb, who's also on the mend from shoulder woes. Joel Peralta? With an abundance of starters on the roster maybe they thought he'd get too much in arbitration after a respectable 2010 season with Washington which saw the 34-year-old right-hander strike out 9.0 batters per inning over 49 games and 39.0 IP with the Nats' after a stint as the Triple-A Chiefs' closer in Syracuse where he saved 20 games and struck out 10.3 K/9 before getting the call up to D.C. The rest are headed for arbitration if they can't agree on deals with the Nationals.