The Nationals tendered contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players, answering their only non-tender deadline question by signing right-hander Ross Ohlendorf to a one-year contract to avoid an arbitration hearing.
The Nationals faced easy decisions in keeping most of their arbitration-eligible players, plus newly acquired Doug Fister. They also wanted to bring back Ohlendorf, who had a breakout season in 2013 as a starter and reliever after a promotion from Class AAA Syracuse. But they wanted to do so without entering arbitration, and they worked until minutes before Monday’s midnight deadline to secure a deal.
Ohlendorf’s deal will pay him $1.25 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the situation. He can make up $3 million more in performance bonuses, which he can attain as either a starter or a reliever.
Ohlendorf will enter spring training with a chance to compete for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation, for which Ross Detwiler appears to be a clear favorite. With his guaranteed salary, he seems slated for at least a role in the Nationals’ bullpen as a long reliever.
With his reworked, rock-and-fire delivery, Ohlendorf surprised last season by throwing 97-mph fastballs. Ohlendorf had a 3.28 ERA in 60 1/3 innings, and the Nationals went 6-1 in games he started.
Ohlendorf, 31, will also be eligible for arbitration again after this season. The Nationals signed him last winter to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.