Left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins won his arbitration hearing with the Nationals and will earn $2.4 million in 2015, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Nationals had submitted a salary figure of $2.2 million for the 31-year-old, who appeared in 64 games last season. He and veteran Matt Thornton are will enter spring training as the go-to lefties in the Nationals’ revamped bullpen.
Blevins, who earned $1.675 million last season, became the ninth player the Nationals have taken to arbitration in the franchise’s 10 seasons. They have won six of those cases.
It was somewhat surprising that the two sides went to arbitration over $200,000, but the sum is more significant in proportion to the size of Blevins’s deal than it would be to, say, Stephen Strasburg’s $7.4 million) and gives him a bump heading into his final year before becoming a free agent.
In the 2012 offseason and before, the Nationals often used a “file-and-trial” policy: If they had not settled with a player by the deadline to exchange figures, they would go straight to a hearing, choosing not to negotiate in the interim. It’s unclear whether Washington has stuck to this policy over the past three offseasons because all their arbitration-eligible players had settled, though Blevins was the only player not to settle before this year’s Jan. 16 deadline, so it would seem the Nationals used that approach on at least a case-by-case basis.
More than 20 players have or will go to arbitration hearings this year. The process is one teams hope to avoid, given that the team is forced to argue against its own player in defense of its own proposed salary figure, which is — of course — lower than the number submitted by the player.
The Nationals had 10 arbitration-eligible players this season, all of whom are now under contract for at least the 2015 season: Blevins, Danny Espinosa, Doug Fister, Kevin Frandsen, Bryce Harper, Jose Lobaton, Wilson Ramos, Craig Stammen, Stephen Strasburg, and Drew Storen.
Blevins, who came to the Nationals in the trade that sent Billy Burns to Oakland last offseason, has pitched in 345 games in his career, tossing to a 3.58 ERA and a WHIP of 1.218. He came on strong last season after early struggles, and by season’s end, the 117 lefties he faced had hit .153 against him.