PHOENIX - JULY 05: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs sits in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 5 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Alfonso Soriano wasn't happy to begin with. The then-29-year-old infielder was traded to Washington by Texas in a December 8, 2005 deal for pitcher Armando Galarraga and outfielders Terrmel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson and was then asked to move from second base to left field by the Nationals. The HR-hitting, base-stealing threat preferred to remain at second base (where the Nats had Jose Vidro) and objected to the fact that he hadn't been told about the Nationals' plans until after the deal had been completed. "The Nationals had to know how unhappy I would be," Soriano told MLB.com at the time, as recorded in this ESPN/AP article entitled, "Nationals expected to list Soriano at left field again." Then the Nats beat Soriano in an arbitration hearing...
The outfielder, who had a .280/.320/.500 line, 199 doubles, 162 home runs and 169 stolen bases over five seasons in New York with the Yankees and two with the Rangers, was asking for $12M dollars but instead got the $10M Washington offered which was then, "... the highest salary in an arbitration case," and, "... a substantial raise," over the $7.5 million he'd earned the previous season in Texas as MLB.com's Bill Ladson noted at the time in an article at the time entitled, "Soriano loses arbitration case." The rocky start to the relationship between the team and player continued, with Soriano refusing to take the field at one point because then-Nats' manager Frank Robinson had pencilled him in in left. In his one year in the nation's capital, the hop-step-catching outfielder hit 41 doubles, 46 HR's and put up a .277/.351/.560 slash. He left as a free agent after that year and the Nats received draft picks in return which they used to select LHP Josh Smoker and RHP Jordan Zimmermann in the 2007 Draft.
In 2007, the Nationals went to arbitration with both reliever Chad Cordero and starter John Patterson. The Nats would win their case against Patterson, with the then-29-year-old right-hander receiving $850,000 instead of the $1.85 million he was seeking after an injury-filled season which ended with a forearm injury in July. Cordero, coming off a 47-save '05 season and a 29-save '06 season, was awarded a raise from the $525,000 he'd made in 2006 to $4.15M instead of the $3.65M dollar figure the Nationals had filed.
2008 saw the Nationals prevail over a then-27-year-old Felipe Lopez in the arbitration process. The infielder was coming off a .245/.308/.352 '07 season which saw him hit 38 doubles, nine home runs and steal 24 bases in 154 games and 671 plate appearances in his first full season in Washington following the eight-player July '06 trade with Cincinnati that brought Lopez to D.C. The Nationals ended up paying Lopez $4.9 million that year instead of the $5.2 million he and his agent had asked for from the Nats.
27-year-old right-hander Shawn Hill, another oft-injured Nats' starter, won his arbitration case against Washington in 2009, receiving a raise from $442,000 to $775,000 rather than the $500,000 the Nats suggested after an '07 season in which he was (4-5) with a 3.42 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 25 walks (2.31 BB/9) and 65 K's (6.01 K/9) in 16 starts and 97.1 IP. The Nats avoided arbitration with their only other arbitration-eligible players that winter, signing Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham before their cases went before judges.
In 2010, Washington went 2-0, beating both left-hander Sean Burnett and right-hander Brian Bruney in arbitration. Bruney, who'd been acquired in a PTBNL deal (OF Jamie Hoffman) with the NY Yankees in early December of 2009, was not happy with the decision which resulted in him getting a $1.5M dollar deal instead of the $1.85M he'd filed for. Bruney was (5-0) with a 3.92 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 23 walks (5.31 BB/9) and 36 K's (8.31 K/9) in 44 games and 39.0 IP in '09. "'It's a letdown when things like that happen,'" a then-27-year-old Bruney told MLB.com's Bill Ladson at the time, "'I can't say, 'It is what it is' or anything like that, but the situation [is not good]. I'm not happy that I lost at all.'"
Sean Burnett, acquired along with OF Nyjer Morgan in the June '09 trade that sent RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge to Pittsburgh, was okay with the $775,000 he received, though he'd asked for a raise to $925,000 over the $408,500 he'd pitched for the previous season with the Pirates. Coming off a (2-3), 6.71 K/9, 4.37 BB/9, 3.12 ERA, 4.57 FIP 2009 campaign, Burnett had a 2.14 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 8.86 K/9 and 2.86 BB/9 2010 season after which he signed a 2-year/$3.95M dollar deal with the Nationals.
Burnett and Bruney in 2010 were the last players that the Washington Nationals went to arbitration with before left-hander John Lannan and the Nats went before the three-judge panel Wednesday afternoon. The 27-year-old left-hander was (10-13) in 2011 with a career-low 3.70 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 106 K's (5.17 K/9) and 76 walks (3.70 BB/9) in 33 GS and 184.2 IP during his fifth MLB season with Washington.
Lannan led all Nationals' pitchers in wins, games started and innings pitched, had the NL's 6th-best GB% (54.1%), and the National League's second-highest double play total for the year. The '05 11th Round pick out of Sienna College avoided arbitration last winter and signed a deal that took him from $458,000 in 2010 to $2.75M in 2011. Lannan reportedly filed for $5.7M with the Nationals filing at $5.0M.
Unless we're missing any (?) the Nationals are (5-2) in arbitration cases. (Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak too wrote that the Nats had won five of the last seven and Lannan was no.8.) A decision is expected from the arbiters in the case of Lannan v The Nationals today. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore spoke to D.C. GM Mike Rizzo Wednesday night, and the general manager said either way Lannan knows it's business and is, "raring to go," once pitchers and catchers report. Will the left-hander be a $5.7M dollar fourth or fifth starter? Or a $5.0M dollar lefty?