Turner, Elías, Ross sign deals to avoid arbitration (updated)

The Nationals worked out 2020 contracts with Trea Turner, Roenis Elías and Joe Ross before today’s deadline, avoiding arbitration with all of their eligible players.

Ross-Throws-Blue-Front-WS-G3.jpgThose three were the Nats’ only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players entering today, the deadline for all such players across the sport to either agree to contract terms or submit competing offers for arbitration.

Turner earned by far the biggest raise of the group, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $7.45 million, according to a source familiar with the terms. The speedy shortstop made $3.725 million last season, during which he hit .298 with 37 doubles, 19 homers, 35 stolen bases and an .850 OPS.

Turner’s new salary fell nearly in line with MLBTradeRumors.com’s $7.5 million projection earlier this winter.

This is the second of four years in which Turner is eligible for arbitration. The Nationals, as they’ve attempted to do with other core players, could seek to lock him up to a long-term contract at some point before he reaches free agency following the 2022 season.

Had the two sides been unable to settle on a number today, they would have headed for an arbitration hearing before a three-judge panel next month in Phoenix. The Nationals took two players to arbitration last year, defeating both Michael A. Taylor and Kyle Barraclough in their hearings.

No hearings are necessary this year for any players, including Elías (who agreed to a $1.975 million deal) or Ross (whose deal is for $1.5 million), sources confirmed. Both signings were first reported by former The Athletic reporter Robert Murray.

Elías more than doubled his $910,000 salary from last season, a raise based far more on how he pitched for the Mariners than for the Nationals. The lefty had a 3.64 ERA and 1.234 WHIP in 44 games with Seattle before he was traded on July 31. He wound up appearing in only four games for the Nats, allowing four homers on five hits (two of those homers) while suffering a pair of hamstring strains that left him on the disabled list for all but one week of the season’s final two months.

The Nationals have much higher hopes for Elías this season, believing a healthy version of the reliever will become a key member of their revamped bullpen. The 31-year-old will, however, need to prove he can get left-handed batters (who produced a robust 1.104 OPS against him last season) out on a more consistent basis.

The Nats also have high hopes for Ross after a wildly erratic 2019 season in which he shuttled back and forth between Washington and Fresno, not to mention back and forth between the clubs’ rotations and bullpens. After struggling mightily as a reliever, the 26-year-old seemed to find his groove as a starter down the stretch. In eight August and September starts, he went 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA.

Ross made $1 million last season, his first as an arbitration-eligible player. MLBTradeRumors.com had projected him to earn a raise up to $1.4 million this season.

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