Nationals

Quick Links

Will Nationals jump onto sudden trend of handing out contract extensions?

Will Nationals jump onto sudden trend of handing out contract extensions?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- January’s barely beeping pulse inspired baseball executives to enter into two lines of thought. First, they questioned the sanity of some agents. Free agent pitchers who ended up signing one-year deals in February were forced into that position after turning down multi-year deals in December. Second, they thought the winter’s chill would prompt an embrace of contract extensions.

Little did they know how right they were.

Nolan Arenado. Blake Snell. Mike Trout. Paul Goldschmidt. Chris Sale.

Whit Merrifield. Alex Bregman. Eloy Jimenez.  Jose Leclerc. Miles Mikolas.

From young to old, established to projected, pitcher to position player. Extensions have hit across every level of the market, flipping baseball’s expenditures from limited to vast. And it has a direct correlation to the Nationals.

Washington is trying to work an extension with Anthony Rendon.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Saturday there’s “nothing new” in negotiations, but both sides continue to be open to it. The Nationals have approached Trea Turner about an extension in the past. When it was suggested, half-jokingly during the offseason, that it may be time to talk to Juan Soto about an extension, an executive suggested the idea was not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Just like the current transition to extensions above free agency includes the gamut of players, options for the Nationals run from young to old. Soto and Victor Robles could be targeted to have their arbitration years bought out in exchange for a give of possible free agency seasons. Turner has three arbitration years remaining. Scherzer has two years remaining on his contract following this season. Justin Verlander’s percolating extension -- recent reports pegged it at two years, $66 million -- suddenly becomes a model for Scherzer.

The shift is rapid and seismic.

“It doesn't surprise me at all,” Rizzo said. “Good players, you're trying to lock up your good players and I think that when you treat them fairly and both sides can agree on something, I think it's good for the game."

Suggestions Stephen Strasburg left a lot of money on the table immediately accompanied his surprise contract extension in 2016. Reasons why Strasburg, a Scott Boras client, chose an opt-out laden deal well before free agency included comfort and familiarity. The money was also good: $175 million. It’s right in line with what Patrick Corbin received this offseason, three years after Strasburg opted for an extension. The deal looks more than palatable now.

What’s interesting is it remains an outlier because of the agent involved. Boras is not prone to extensions. Of the 18 players to sign extensions this calendar year, none are Boras clients, unlike so many in the Nationals clubhouse. Soto is. Rendon is. Scherzer is. Turner is not. Will Boras come along with the shift?

"I just think that players, the representatives and the players are more in-tune to what the economics of the game are now than they have ever been,” Rizzo said when asked in general why this is happening. “These guys know what they are talking about, they know what the market looks like, and I think they are making good, prudent decisions for their own personal careers."

Would Rizzo look at it with Soto and Robles?

“I think that, like I said, we have a blueprint and a plan in place and keeping your talent is a huge part of that plan,” Rizzo said. “We're open to all sorts of ideas that keep us viable and competitive for the long haul."

That includes buying out arbitration years in the right scenario.

"I think that as a rule of thumb, I think that when you buy out arbitration years, I like to get a free agent year or two tacked onto it to make that make sense to me,” Rizzo said. “But other teams do it different ways, and I think to take on the risk of buying out arbitration... it controls your payroll and you know where you're at, but I think that tacking on a free agent year shares the risk more evenly."

So, we know the internal possibilities. We know Rizzo’s stance on the idea. We also know the environment has changed. Washington has a chance to change the future with it.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Sean Doolittle says Nationals players will cover pay cuts scheduled for organization’s minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle says Nationals players will cover pay cuts scheduled for organization’s minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle tweeted late Sunday night that the Nationals’ major-league players will cover a pay cut minor-league players in the organization were going to endure.

The minor-league stipend was being reduced from $400 a week to $300 a week by the organization. Doolittle said the big-leaguers will close the gap.

“After hearing that Nationals minor league players are facing additional pay cuts, the current members of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club will be coming together and committing funds to make whole the lost wages from their weekly stipends," he tweeted.

“All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during these uncertain times.

“Minor leaguers are an essential part of our organization and they are bearing the heaviest burden of this situation as their season is likely to be cancelled. We recognize and want to stand with them and show our support.”

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

The Nationals’ decision to reduce the weekly stipend for minor-league players ran counter to their original assertion that they would not -- as well as to what some other teams in the league are doing. Mike Rizzo, who was a minor-league player and an area scout trying to make ends meet at the start of his career, has a personal understanding of the process. He said on March 20 the Nationals would be protecting the minor-league salaries as agreed upon across the sport.

“In addition, very, very glad to see that Major League Baseball is beginning to take care of minor league players,” Rizzo said then. “That's something that we were certainly prepared to do without MLB's authority, if it came to that. We did want to wait to see what Major League Baseball would do for us to make our move. These minor-league players are not only of great importance to Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals -- these are the next star players for the Nationals; these are the next union members for the MLBPA.”

In the end, the current union members had to step in to make sure the stipends were maintained when a decision seemingly above Rizzo was made.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

MLBPA proposes 114-game season that would start on June 30, according to report

MLBPA proposes 114-game season that would start on June 30, according to report

The Major League Baseball Players Association delivered a proposal to MLB on Sunday to play a 114-game season that would start on June 30, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported on Sunday.

The proposal comes after weeks of a strained back-and-forth between the union and team owners over potential salary cuts and protections for players as the two sides look to negotiate a late start to the 2020 season. Many - including NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas - have pointed to a time crunch to get a plan in place to start the season.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

According to Passan, the latest proposal includes the right to opt out of the season for all players and a deferral of salaries if the 2020 postseason was canceled.

A sticking point in a proposal that leaked last week from the owners suggested that players take a tiered pay cut, which predictably angered players.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: