This is going to be a busy day across baseball. A lot of news is going to come trickling out over the course of many hours as players from every club either agree to terms on 2020 salaries or file for arbitration.
Hey, I only said it’s going to be busy. I never said it was going to be exciting.
Truthfully, this is one of the most annoying days of the baseball year. All the players involved are staying with their current clubs. These aren’t free agents, they’re merely players with at least three but fewer than six years of big league service time, which gives them the right to negotiate their salaries instead of having them dictated by their teams.
That won’t stop some out there from panicking when they hear some player wasn’t able to come to terms before the deadline, believing that means said player has just been released. I’m here to tell you he hasn’t.
But all of this is a necessarily evil, so we’ll suck it up for one day and deal with the slow-moving news that drops along the way.
The Nationals have three players who are trying to get deals done today: Trea Turner, Roenis Elías and Joe Ross. Four others (Michael A. Taylor, Hunter Strickland, Wilmer Difo and Javy Guerra) entered the offseason as arbitration-eligible but previously had their situations resolved. Strickland ($1.6 million) and Difo ($1 million) already agreed to their 2020 salaries earlier this winter. Guerra was non-tendered but then re-signed with the Nats on a non-guaranteed minor league deal. Taylor agreed to a $3.325 million deal Thursday night.
Of the three remaining unsigned players, Turner stands to earn the biggest raise. He made $3.725 million last season (his first of four years of arbitration eligibility because he qualified early as a so-called “Super-2” player) and then proceeded to have another strong season for the Nationals, hitting .298 with 37 doubles, 19 homers, 35 stolen bases and an .850 OPS.
How much could Turner make this season? MLBTradeRumors.com projects his salary to come in at $7.5 million, more than double last year’s number.
Elías presents a bit of an odd case, because he’s going to be judged more on what he did for the Mariners from April-July (3.64 ERA, 1.234 WHIP in 44 games) than for what he did for the Nationals after that (9.00 ERA, 2.000 WHIP in four games). The left-hander made $910,000 last year, his first as an arbitration-eligible player. MLBTradeRumors.com projects him to make $1.9 million this year.
Finally, there’s Ross, who enters his second year of arbitration eligibility. The right-hander made $1 million last season, which he spent shuttling back and forth between D.C. and Fresno and back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. He finished strong, but his final numbers (5.48 ERA, 1.672 WHIP across 64 major league innings) were held back by his early season struggles. MLBTradeRumors.com projects a $1.4 million salary for him in 2020.