Nationals avoid arbitration with Juan Soto and Josh Bell, but far apart on Victor Robles

The only arbitration-eligible player on the Nationals who hasn’t come to an agreement with the team on his 2022 salary is Victor Robles.

The Washington Nationals on Tuesday night avoided arbitration with stars Juan Soto and Josh Bell — several hours after they did the same with pitchers Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, Austin Voth and Tanner Rainey.

Sotothe 2021 National League MVP runner-up, will get $17.1 million in his second season of arbitration, while Bell, a free agent next winter, agreed at $10 million. Soto‘s salary is the 10th highest for an arbitration player in history. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand was first to report both figures.

Major League Baseball had a 1 pm deadline Tuesday for teams to come to agreements with their arbitration-eligible players before being forced to exchange competing salaries for the upcoming season. The Nationals and Robles, expected to be the team’s starting center fielder despite his struggles last season, can still reach an agreement on their own, but if they can’t, the league will hold an arbitration hearing to determine his pay for 2022.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Robles filed at $2.1 million — $500,000 more than the Nationals’ offer of $1.6 million. A difference of $500,000 for a player in his first season of arbitration eligibility is a large difference — one that could lead to a hearing. Robles, 24, was projected by MLBTradeRumors to make $1.7 million.

The arbitration process is normally a lengthy one that’s handled in the winter. But due to the league’s 99-day lockout, the complicated proceedings are taking place amid the shortened spring training. Players eligible for arbitration are typically those with between three and six years of MLB service time.

Arbitration hearings are often avoided by both teams and players, as they have the potential of harming the relationship. For Sotothe quick agreement after Tuesday’s deadline prevents any controversy regarding his pay for the 2022 season — a situation that could have hinder the prospects of a long-term extension for the star right fielder.

Before the lockout, Sotowho will hit free agency after the 2024 season, turned down a $350 million extension from the Nationals — a deal that would’ve made him one of the highest-paid players in the game, but also one that was well below what he‘s projected to be worth in the coming years.



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