Left-handed reliever Doug Slaten was the only arbitration-eligible National who wasn't tendered a contract back in the second week of December. In an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, Slaten had a 4.41 ERA, 5.66 FIP, 7.16 K/9 and 4.96 BB/9 with opposing hitters batting .356 against the 31-year-old reliever and left-handers in particular putting up a .333/.368/.639 slash when he was on the hill. In 2010, his first season in D.C., Slaten had a 3.10 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 7.97 K/9 and 4.20 BB/9 in 49 games and 40.2 IP, holding left-handed hitting opponents to a .151/.235/.151 line.
The Nationals are reportedly still in the mix for a veteran reliever with D.C. GM Mike Rizzo telling MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin in a recent interview, "We'd like to supplement our bullpen a little bit. Get a little veteran presence in there." MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote two days back on Twitter (@washingnats) that though there's been talk of Todd Coffey possibly returning sources told him, "It's less than 50 percent that RHP Todd Coffey returns to the club." Is there room for another reliever in the 2012 Nats' bullpen?
MLB.com's Mr. Ladson reported tonight that two and potentially three relief options filed for arbitration. On the same day Doug Slaten was non-tendered, the Nationals tendered contracts to RHPs Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann, LHPs Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan, first baseman Michael Morse and catcher Jesus Flores. While Zimmermann's penciled in atop the rotation along with left-hander Gio Gonzalez (who also filed for arbitration tonight) and right-hander Stephen Strasburg, Gorzelanny and Lannan are set to battle for roles in the Nats' rotation when Spring Training begins.
With Stras, Gio, Zim and Chien-Ming Wang expected to start, the conventional wisdom right now says Lannan and '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler will be battling to decide which one starts the season in the rotation and which lefty heads to the pen. Tom Gorzelanny transitioned to the pen last season and it's expected he'll be back there next year as the left-handed long-man Davey Johnson's said to like to having in the bullpen.
Six of the seven players (7 of 142 to file for abitration league-wide) are due significant raises over their 2011 salaries. MLBTraderumors.com's offered guesstimates of what each arbitration-eligible player might make this season. John Lannan, who avoided arbitration by signing a 1-year/$2.75M dollar deal on 1/17/11, is projected to get a bump up to $4.8M in 2012. Tyler Clippard, who made $443,000 last year setting up closer Drew Storen, could get as much as $1.7M. Gorzelanny avoided arbitration by signing a 1-year/$2.1M dollar deal with the Cubs before Chicago dealt the lefty to D.C., the MLBTR crew guesses he'll get $2.8M in 2011.
Jordan Zimmermann earned $415K and could a raise to around $1.8M. Gio Gonzalez made $420K in 2011, and should get a significant raise to $3.6M in his 5th MLB campaign. Jesus Flores made $750K and could receive a small bump to $800 K and Michael Morse might be the big winner, with an estimated $3.7M coming his way after he earned $1.05M last year while leading the Nats offensively in his breakout campaign. The deadline to file for arbitration was tonight, the players and the team now have until Tuesday to exchange salary figures. If no deal is reached they'll go to arbitration next month.