The Nationals avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Flores by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract, the team announced. Flores will earn $815,000 in 2012, a raise of $65,000 from last year, plus up to $50,000 in performance bonuses based on games played.
Flores, 27, appeared in 30 games last year with the Nationals after missing all of 2010 and most of 2009 with a torn labrum. Flores hit .209/.253/.314 in 91 plate appearances and showed improvement behind the plate as he regained arm strength. The Nationals plan on Flores serving as Wilson Ramos’s backup this season.
After extending Gio Gonzalez’s contract and reaching the deal with Flores, the Nationals still have five arbitration-eligible players to sign: Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Morse, John Lannan, Tyler Clippard and Tom Gorzelanny.
The deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to exchange arbitration figures is Tuesday a noon. In the past, the Nationals have employed a “file-and-trial” policy, which means they informed agents that an exchange of figures would lead to an arbitration hearing, no questions asked. For teams that don’t use “file-and-trial,” which is most teams, the exchange of figures gives the sides a final chance to strike a deal, with the midpoint as the basis for compromise.
Last year, the Nationals did not use a “file-and-trial” policy and avoided arbitration hearings with all of their eligible players. This year, the Nationals have still yet to inform agents if they will use the policy or not.
If the Nationals do not reach deals with their remaining arbitration-eligible players, arbitration hearings will take place from Feb. 1 through Feb. 21.