Monday, December 20, 2004

Back Between The Lines

Rotoworld is reporting that the Nats and Mariners are fighting it out for the last-remaining good pitcher on the market, Odalis Perez. Apparently the Nats have offered $18 million over three years. If we can get him for that price, I think we’d have a bargain--especially considering some of the crazy contracts that have been given out this year. (Of course, Bowden is responsible for a few of them himself!)

I really hope they can come to a deal. I’d imagine that the Nat’s tenuous future is going to way pretty heavily in Perez’ decision. If Seattle is offer is close, I’d imagine him going there--especially because of the signings Seattle has made so far. Combined with Oakland’s decision to take a step back this season for the better of the next few years, Seattle has a chance to make a serious run again.

Today is the non-tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players who aren’t yet free agents. The Nats had seven arbitration-eligible players. Bowden re-signed one, Joey Eischen, to a 1-year $1.04 million deal. Eischen was injured most of the year and only pitched 18 innings. When healthy, he’s a decent, but not spectacular, pitcher. (I didn’t realize this until now, but he played one season with my hometown independent league baseball team, the Adirondack Lumberjacks--it’s ok…. You don’t have to pretend to care.)

Bowden has indicated that he might non-tender one of the remaining six: Brad Wilkerson, Brian Schneider, Nick Johnson, Tony Armas, Tomo Ohka, and TJ Tucker.

Wilkerson and Schneider will obviously be offered a contract. Bowden had made some noise about non-tendering Nick Johnson, but I think it was just that: noise. Tucker is a serviceable reliever without overwhelming stats. He’ll be due for a raise, but I don’t think it would be bank-breaking.

Armas and Ohka are the interesting cases. When healthy, they’ve both put up solid numbers in the majors and are both young enough and with enough potential to have a solid breakout season.

For Armas, last season’s low 16-start total was his highest since 2001 and 2002 when he started 34 and 29 games respectively. Ohka’s been the more durable player, starting over 30 games in 2002 and 2003. Last year’s freak broken arm from a batted-ball prevented him from hitting 30 games again. Neither pitcher has an impressive win total--they’re both below .500 and both have ERAs hovering near 4.

They’ll both make more money, just because that’s the way arbitration works, but neither is going to break the bank. It wouldn’t shock me to see Bowden non-tender either of them (Probably he’d let Armas go, because of the injury history), but both still have lots of potential.

If we did manage to sign Perez, the rotation would be excellent. Perez, Livan, Ohka, and Armas are an excellent front four with plenty of room for improvement. Keeping both pitchers seems like it would be worth the risk of the additional expense.


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