Nats agree to terms with Solís, tender contracts to six others

The Nationals aren’t ready to part ways with Sammy Solís just yet.

Faced with an 8 p.m. EST deadline to tender a contract to the injury plagued and erratic reliever, the Nationals elected not only to bring Solís back in 2019 and give him another chance to right his ship following an especially frustrating season but to sign him right now. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $850,000 deal, according to a source familiar with the terms.

The Nationals tendered contracts to all six of their other arbitration-eligible players: Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark, Trea Turner, Michael A. Taylor, Kyle Barraclough and Joe Ross. The sides have until Jan. 11 to agree to terms on their own or else file for salary arbitration.

There was little debate about bringing back those six players, even with their salaries guaranteed to rise in 2019. There was debate with Solís, who was in danger of being non-tendered by an organization that has given him countless opportunities over the years.

Solis-Deals-Gray-Sidebar.jpgIn the end, general manager Mike Rizzo elected to keep Solís and hope the 30-year-old has a turnaround in him following a tumultuous season in which he posted a 6.41 ERA and 1.551 WHIP in 56 appearances.

Originally selected with the first pick of the second round in the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego, Solís was touted as a future starter with an extensive repertoire of pitches. But his minor league career was beset by injuries, most notably Tommy John surgery in 2012, and that prompted the organization to shift him to the bullpen.

Solís made his major league debut in 2015, and in 55 appearances across two seasons he impressed with a 2.74 ERA, 1.299 WHIP and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Nagging injuries, however, continued to plague him, straight through a 2017 season in which his ERA rose to 5.88 in only 30 appearances.

Perhaps ironically, Solís had his worst season to date in 2018 even though he remained healthy, avoiding the disabled list for the first time despite heavy usage by first-year manager Davey Martinez early in the year. Most notably, he struggled mightily against left-handed batters, who amassed a whopping .998 OPS in 88 plate appearances (as opposed to the .719 OPS right-handed batters produced in 89 plate appearances against him).

The Nationals twice sent Solís - who had a rare fourth option year - to the minors this season, but he never could right his ship. Now out of options, he’ll have to make the big league roster out of spring training or else be exposed to waivers.

There is one more opportunity for the club to cut bait if it so chooses. If the Nats were to release Solís (or any other arbitration-eligible player on a one-year contract) by March 13, they would be responsible only for one-sixth of his salary.

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