Nats non-tender Revere, retain others (including Espinosa)

Ben Revere's tenure with the Nationals has ended after one disappointing season. Danny Espinosa's tumultuous tenure with the organization will extend into its ninth year.

The Nationals elected not to tender a contract to Revere before tonight's 8 p.m. deadline, cutting the outfielder loose and making him a free agent.

Four players who are eligible for arbitration - Espinosa, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Tanner Roark - all were tendered contracts. The latter three were all expected, though there was some question about Espinosa given his offensive struggles this season and the club's plans for shortstop next season. These players' 2017 salaries will be determined later this winter, either by the two sides agreeing to terms on their own or via the rulings of an arbitration panel.

The decision not to tender Revere a contract didn't come as much of a surprise, but it's certainly not what the Nationals intended when they traded for the speedy outfielder last winter. Acquired from the Blue Jays for aggrieved reliever Drew Storen, he was expected to replace free agent Denard Span as the club's everyday leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Ben-Revere-blue-sidebar.jpgBut after tearing an oblique muscle on opening day, Revere was forced to the disabled list for more than a month. And once he returned, he never found his form. The 28-year-old wound up hitting a career-low .217 with a .260 on-base percentage and .560 OPS that ranked last among all major league players with at least 350 plate appearances.

And when rookie Trea Turner emerged as a dominant force atop the Nationals lineup and (unexpectedly) in center field, Revere became an afterthought. He barely played in August and September and was left off the National League Division Series roster altogether, all but sealing his fate.

The Nationals might have had interest bringing back Revere (who had hit .306 the previous three seasons combined) as a fourth outfielder next year, but not at the price he would have commanded. He was likely to earn a salary in excess of $6 million via the arbitration process.

The decision on Espinosa was more of a toss-up, given the longstanding debate between those who believe the infielder is valuable for his defense and occasional power streaks and those who insist his offensive shortcomings are more damaging than the positives he brings to the table.

A career .226 hitter with a .302 on-base percentage, .690 OPS, 92 homers, 285 RBIs and 834 strikeouts in 779 games with the Nationals since his debut in September 2010, Espinosa finally became their everyday shortstop this season following Ian Desmond's departure.

He finished with 24 homers and 72 RBIs, but nine of the homers and 21 of the RBIs came during a torrid June in which he hit .309 with a 1.122 OPS. Take that month out of the equation, and Espinosa hit a scant .191 with a .283 on-base percentage the rest of the season.

The 29-year-old Espinosa is now due to earn more than $5 million through arbitration, though his precise role in 2017 remains to be seen. If the Nationals acquire another outfielder that allows Turner to shift to his natural shortstop position, Espinosa could wind up on the bench as a utility infielder. If Turner remains in center field, the shortstop job would remain available to Espinosa.

More thoughts on yesterday's moves and non-moves
Nationals acquire catcher Derek Norris

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