The Nationals officially announced they have avoided arbitration with six of their seven arbitration-eligible players ahead of Friday’s deadline for both sides to exchange figures. Tyler Clippard was among those six players to strike a deal, with Jordan Zimmerman the lone player yet to agree on a contract determining his 2013 salary.
On Friday, the Nationals and Zimmermann’s representatives exchange figures and both sides have up until the date of the arbitration hearings to strike a deal. The hearings begin Feb. 4, and teams generally prefer to avoid the contentious process by agreeing to terms with the player before. According to a CBS Sports report, Zimmermann’s representative filed a salary proposal for $5.8 million for next season and the Nationals countered with $4.6 million.
Zimmermann is eligible for arbitration for the second time in his career and made $2.3 million last season as a Super Two-eligible player. Zimmermann is a vital member of the Nationals’ vaunted starting rotation, posting a 2.94 ERA and a 12-8 record over 195 2/3 innings last season. The hard-throwing right-hander is only 27 and under team control through 2016. He, along with Ian Desmond, appeared to be the likely candidates to potentially secure multi-year deals, though Desmond agreed to a one-year contract to avoid arbitration on Friday.
Clippard, 27, was eligible for arbitration for the second time. He avoided arbitration last season, eligible as a Super Two player, by agreeing to a contract that would pay him $1.65 million in 2012. After serving as a key piece in the Nationals bullpen last season, pilling up 32 saves, which are expensive in the arbitration process. According to a CBS Sports report, Clippard and the Nats settled at $4 million for his salary season, a hefty pay raise because of the saves and making him the second-highest paid reliever on the team next year after newly-acquired closer Rafael Soriano.
After injuries claimed closer Drew Storen and backups Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez, Clippard, the team’s reliable setup man and all-star reliever in 2011, pitched brilliantly as the closer starting in May for the next two months. He struggled and wore down in the second half of the season but still racked up 32 saves, good for seventh in the National League. In 72 2/3 innings, he finished with a 3.72 ERA, his highest in four seasons.
With the signing of free agent closer Rafael Soriano, Clippard and mostly Storen stand to lose money next season. They stand to be the seventh and eighth inning pitchers, with Storen likely serving as the “B” closer in Manager Davey Johnson’s system, and as a result, both could see a sharp dive in the number of saves and pay the following year in arbitration.
The deals struck by the other five arbitration-eligible Nationals players: