On the day teams and players exchange figures in advance of salary arbitration, the Nationals all but rendered the process inconsequential, agreeing to terms with four of their six arbitration-eligible players -- reliever Jason Bergmann, catchers Jesus Flores and Wil Nieves and outfielder Josh Willingham. Only relievers Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett remain without contracts, though the Nationals can still settle with those two players in advance of arbitration hearings next month.
Willingham’s deal is for $4.6 million, a significant raise over the $2.95 million he got last season. Bergmann’s deal is for $750,000. Burnett filed a $925,000 salary figure, and the Nats are offering $775,000. Bruney and the Nationals are slightly farther apart -- his camp asked for $1.85 million, and the Nats offered $1.5 million. I’m still trying to track down the rest of the group.
I’d thought Flores and possibly Bergmann would be the most interesting cases, but the Nationals managed to work out deals with most of their arbitration-eligible players in advance of hearings last year. A couple of those deals went down to the wire, with then-general manager Jim Bowden giddily alerting the media in the middle of the night about Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman. The process was much less exciting this year -- but for the Nationals to get four deals done that quickly, it’s a good sign.