Nats payroll slightly up despite lack of free agent signings

CINCINNATI – Despite their limited action in free agency over the winter, the Nationals’ payroll has gone up a bit this year, a product almost entirely of returning players whose salaries increased via arbitration.

The Nats’ Opening Day payroll (counting 26 active players, plus five more who began the season on the injured list) is $107,566,629, according to Spotrac, which ranks 21st among all major league clubs. One year ago, that figure was about $94.5 million, which ranked 22nd.

Those totals count all money owed to players during the upcoming year, not any money that will be paid at a later date via deferrals.

The Nationals did very little in free agency during the offseason, signing only three players to major league contracts: Joey Gallo ($5 million guaranteed), Dylan Floro ($2.25 million) and Nick Senzel ($2 million). They did sign four more veteran free agents to minor league deals during spring training who wound up making the roster: Eddie Rosario ($2 million guaranteed), Jesse Winker ($1.5 million), Matt Barnes ($1.5 million) and Derek Law ($1.5 million).

All told, the Nats spent only $15.75 million on free agents, down from $18.25 million the previous offseason.

This year’s payroll went up, though, because of salary increases for a number of returning players, most of them seeing their figures rise thanks to MLB’s arbitration system.

Lane Thomas enjoyed the biggest salary bump, from $2.2 million to $5.45 million, followed by Kyle Finnegan ($2.325 million to $5.1 million). Victor Robles ($2.65 million), Hunter Harvey ($2.325 million), Luis Garcia Jr. ($1.95 million) and Ildemaro Vargas ($1.1 million) also earned raises of various sizes this winter.

Two players who signed multi-year deals in 2023 also had salary increases built into their contracts, with Trevor Williams going up from $6 million to $7 million and Keibert Ruiz going up from $4 million to $6.375 million.

Though the Nationals’ payroll increased this year, it still pales in comparison to the franchise’s Opening Day payrolls from 2014-21, which ranged from $137 million to $197 million and ranked among the top 10 in the majors every season.

This year’s figure also includes the $23.6 million salary being paid to Stephen Strasburg, who is unable to pitch again due to thoracic outlet surgery but officially remains on the 60-day IL because he and the organization have been unable to agree on financial details of his retirement. Strasburg’s contract runs through 2026, with the club owing him $23.6 million each year and then an additional $26 million each year through 2029 via deferrals negotiated at the time the deal originally was signed.

If you remove Strasburg’s salary, the Nationals’ 2024 Opening Day payroll plummets to $83.1 million, which would rank 29th in the majors, ahead of only the Athletics.

Here are the 2024 salaries for the players on the Opening Day roster and IL …

Patrick Corbin – $25,416,670
Stephen Strasburg – $23,571,429
Trevor Williams – $7,000,000
Keibert Ruiz – $6,375,000
Lane Thomas – $5,450,000
Kyle Finnegan – $5,100,000
Joey Gallo – $5,000,000
Victor Robles – $2,650,000
Hunter Harvey – $2,325,000
Dylan Floro – $2,250,000
Eddie Rosario – $2,000,000
Nick Senzel – $2,000,000
Luis García Jr. – $1,950,000
Matt Barnes – $1,500,000
Jesse Winker – $1,500,000
Derek Law – $1,500,000
Tanner Rainey – $1,500,000
Ildemaro Vargas – $1,100,000
Stone Garrett – $798,600
Jordan Weems – $773,500
Josiah Gray – $757,400
CJ Abrams – $752,400
Joey Meneses – $752,000
Riley Adams – $750,900
MacKenzie Gore – $749,600
Mason Thompson – $749,200
Jake Irvin – $745,600
Jose A. Ferrer – $743,000
Robert Garcia – $742,800
Cade Cavalli – $740,200
Nasim Nuñez – $740,000

TOTAL – $107,983,299

Game 2 lineups: Nats at Reds
Senzel injury will force Nats to create new plan f...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to