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Washington Nationals’ arbitration history in review: Alfonso Soriano to Kyle Barraclough

With one case to go this winter, the Washington Nationals are 7-3 in arbitration since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005...

Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/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 two outfielders, Terrmel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson, and Soriano was asked to move from second base to left field by the Nationals. The home run-hitting, base-stealing threat preferred to remain at second base (where the Nats had Jose Vidro).

Soriano also 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. 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,” from the $7.5M he’d earned during the previous season in Texas, as MLB.com’s Bill Ladson noted at the time.

The rocky start to the relationship between the team and player continued, with Soriano refusing to take the field at one point because then-Nationals’ 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 and 46 HRs, putting up a .277/.351/.560 line.

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 won their case against Patterson, with the then-29-year-old right-hander receiving $850K instead of the $1.85M he was seeking, after an injury-filled season which ended with a forearm issue the previous July.

Cordero, coming off a 47-save ‘05 campaign and a 29-save ‘06 season, was awarded with a raise from the $525K he earned in 2006 to $4.15M in 2007 instead of the $3.65M figure that the Nationals had filed.

In 2008, the Nationals “prevailed” over a then-27-year-old Felipe Lopez in the arbitration process.

The infielder was coming off a .245/.308/.352 season in 2007 which saw him hit 38 doubles and 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 the Cincinnati Reds that brought Lopez to D.C.

The Nationals ended up paying Lopez $4.9M that year instead of the $5.2M he and his agent asked for from the team.

Twenty-seven-year-old right-hander Shawn Hill, another oft-injured Nationals’ starter, won his arbitration case against Washington in ‘09, receiving a raise from $442K to $775K, rather than the $500K the Nats suggested after an ‘07 season in which he went (4-5) with a 3.42 ERA, a 4.03 FIP, 25 walks (2.31 BB/9), and 65 Ks (6.01 K/9) in 16 starts and 97 13 IP.

In 2010, the Nationals went 2-0, beating both left-hander reliever Sean Burnett and right-hander Brian Bruney in arbitration. Bruney, who’d been acquired in a PTBNL deal with the New York 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, a 5.10 FIP, 23 walks (5.31 BB/9) and 36 Ks (8.31 K/9) in 44 games and 39 IP in ‘09.

“‘It’s a letdown when things like that happen,’” the 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 outfielder Nyjer Morgan in the June ‘09 trade which 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 campaign, Burnett had a 2.14 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 8.86 K/9 and 2.86 BB/9 season in 2010, and 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 a three-judge panel in 2012.

The 27-year-old left-hander was (10-13) in 2011 with a career-low 3.70 ERA, a 4.28 FIP, 106 Ks (5.17 K/9) and 76 walks (3.70 BB/9) in 33 GS and 184 23 IP during his fifth season in D.C.

Lannan led all Nationals’ pitchers in wins, games started, and innings pitched, had the NL’s sixth-best GB% (54.1%), and the National League’s second-highest double play total for the year.

The 2005 11th Round pick out of Sienna College avoided arbitration the previous 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. The Nationals won that case too, improving to 6-2 in arbitration cases. They didn’t have another one for three years.

Reliever Jerry Blevins came out on the winning end of his arbitration hearing with the Nats in the winter of 2015.

Blevins, 31, asked for $2.4M that winter. The Nationals offered the lefty $2.2M and the two sides couldn’t bridge the gap without a hearing.

Blevins’ win was just the third in nine arbitration cases. He was traded a few months later.

This winter, there were two players with whom the Nationals couldn’t avoid arbitration.

Michael A. Taylor’s case was settled last week, with the arbitration panel siding with the Nationals and their offer of $3.25M over the $3.5M the outfielder was seeking after what was a disappointing .227/.287/.357 season in which he hit a total of 22 doubles and six homers, with 29 walks and 116 Ks in 134 games and 385 plate appearances, over which Taylor produced 71 wRC+ and was worth 0.9 fWAR.

Right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough is the only remaining arbitration-eligible player.

Barraclough, who was acquired from Miami early this winter, filed at $2M while Washington submitted an increase to $1.725M from the $1.113M the pitcher earned in 2018.

[ed. note - “This post has been periodically updated since 2007-2008-ish. With some slight edits and necessary updates, it has been reposted here over the years.”]