As expected, the Nationals agreed to terms Friday on one-year deals with Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner in order to avoid salary arbitration.
However, the Nationals did not agree to terms with outfielder Michael A. Taylor or reliever Kyle Barraclough, which means they may take the rare step of moving to arbitration hearings with the pair.
Sammy Solis and Joe Ross, both arbitration eligible, previously agreed to contract terms.
The Nationals are typically loathe to enter arbitration hearings with players. Those proceedings can become contentious and hinder future negotiations, which is why the organization has avoided them since 2015 until possibly finding an impasse this season with Taylor and Barraclough.
Taylor remains in the mix as a fourth outfielder and ongoing offensive project. The Nationals hold his rights until after the 2020 season. Barraclough was acquired Oct. 10 from the Miami Marlins for international slot money. He’s expected to be one of the team’s late inning relievers. He is arbitration eligible in 2020 and 2021.
Here’s a procedural overview of what’s next for them:
If the club and player have not agreed on a salary by a deadline in mid-January, the club and player must exchange salary figures for the upcoming season. Unsurprisingly, the club files a lower number than the player does.
After the figures are exchanged, a hearing is scheduled in February. If no one-year or multi-year settlement can be reached by the hearing date, the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators. After hearing arguments from both sides, the panel selects either the salary figure of the player or the club (but not one in between) as the player's salary for the upcoming season.
Rendon is reportedly receiving a significant raise -- according to Bob Nightengale, he'll earn $18.8 million in 2019, up from $12.3 million last season -- following another excellent season. He finished 2018 with a .909 OPS and 4.2 WAR. Next for him is the big issue: Rendon is entering his final season before he can become a free agent.
He’s open to considering a contract extension. As is the team, which first approached him about an extension more than a year ago. The wrinkle is Rendon’s agent, Scott Boras. He prefers his clients reach free agency as opposed to sign extensions.
However, Stephen Strasburg opted for an extension in 2016 in a situation that reads similar to Rendon’s. When asked at the Winter Meetings, both Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and Boras said they expect the sides to have further dialogue on a possible extension for Rendon.
The team holds three more years of control on Turner, who will continue to go through this year-to-year contractual process. He can’t become a free agent until his age-30 season. Like Rendon, Turner received a large raise. He’ll reportedly make $3.725 million next season, well above the $577,200 he made last season, which was slightly above league minimum.
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