I’ve never found these arbitration-avoiding signings to be too exciting. And if they don’t sign the guy and move to arbitration, again, I am rarely glued to the hearing. But it is still good to see that the Nats were able to come to terms with 4 out of the 6 players with whom they were negotiating. Arbitration hearings can often cause a rift between players and the organization. The team offers $X million, and the player counters with $X million plus $Y million. In order to justify the $Y million, the player talks about how great he is. In order to avoid paying the extra $Y million, the team talks about how much the guy sucks. Sometimes the player walks away thinking, “Boy, this team really doesn’t appreciate me.” In truth, they are just trying to save money and keep the player. But sometimes when players forget its just business, they may cause some bad feelings that don’t go away when it’s time for free agency.
So it is good news that they signed they players that they did. Highest up on the list was Josh Willingham, who got rewarded for his good season with a contract of $4.6 million. It’s up from last year as were his numbers. The only thing he has left to do is keep his high early season numbers going all year. In 2010 he will have the 5th highest salary on the team, behind Dunn, Guzman, Marquis,and Zimmerman, unless they sign another free agent for more. They also came to terms with Jason Bergmann, who had a very good second half of the season. He had a 3.48 ERA from July to the end of the year in 42 appearances and 33 2/3 IP. His salary of $750,000 is more than reasonable for what he was able to do, and if he keeps it up, it will be a bargain.