Nationals non-tender Joel Peralta, Chien-Ming Wang, Wil Nieves
Friday, December 3, 2010; 12:42 AM
At tonight's midnight deadline, the Nationals chose not to tender a contract to three of their 10 arbitration eligible players, making starter Chien-Ming Wang, catcher Wil Nieves and reliever Joel Peralta free agents. The Nationals also agreed to terms on one-year contracts with utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez and catcher Jesus Flores, thereby avoiding arbitration. That left John Lannan, Josh Willingham, Sean Burnett, Michael Morse and Doug Slaten as players the Nationals could go to arbitration with. Barring a trade -- and Willingham has been drawing significant interest -- all five will be Nationals again in 2011. The Nationals were expected to jettison Nieves, a reliable back-up who, with Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez in the fold, no longer has a place on the roster. Wang was also an expected non-tender, because the Nationals can likely negotiate a cheaper, more incentive-based contract than the $1.6 million minimum he would have been owed through arbitration. The surprise was Peralta. He became a key late-innings reliever for the Nationals, posting a 2.02 ERA and a 0.796 WHIP in 49 innings this season following a promotion from Class AAA Syracuse. The Nationals could still sign Peralta as a free agent, but they'll compete with 29 other teams. Both Gonzalez and Flores are represented by agent Scott Boras, whom the Nationals have worked with often, particularly with first overall draft choices Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.