Nationals avoid arbitration with pitchers Ross, Fedde, Rainey, Voth

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration with four players prior to MLB’s 1 pm deadline on Tuesday.

The Nationals agreed on 2022 salaries with pitchers Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, Tanner Rainey and Austin Voth, but they could not settle with Juan Soto, Josh Bell or Victor Robles.

MLB’s deadline Tuesday afternoon means the team and the remaining players — SotoBell and Robles — must exchange competing figures to determine their pay for the 2022 campaign. They can still reach an agreement before arbitration, but if they can’t, the league will hold a hearing to determine their 2022 salaries.

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.

Ross, a 28-year-old starting pitcher, and the Nationals settled on $2.4 million for 2022, according to MLB insider Mark Feinsand. Ross, who is set to become a free agent next offseason, made $1.5 million last year during his bounce back campaign, in which he set career-highs in innings pitched and strikeouts before a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament ended his season in August. He was projected by MLBTradeRumors to make $3 million, but he agreed to less due to his recent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbowwhich is expected to keep him sidelined through at least April.

Fedde, arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career, agreed with the team at $2.15 million, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray. The 29-year-old right-hander struggled in his first full season in the rotation last year, posting a 5.47 earned-run average in 133 1/3 innings. The $2.15 million agreement is slightly more than MLBTradeRumors’ projection of $1.9 million.

Voth and Rainey were also in their first year of arbitration as “Super Two” players, which designates them as part of the top 22% of players with more than two years of service time. Voth, 29, went 4-1 with a 5.34 ERA out of the bullpen last season and settled on $875,000 — less than his $1 million projection — according to the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty. Rainey, a 29-year-old right-hander, struggled out of the pen last year with a 7.39 ERA after solid 2019 and 2020 campaigns. His agreement has not been reported, but MLBTradeRumors projected him at $800,000.

The four pitchers joined outfielder Andrew Stevenson to settle before their arbitration hearings, as Stevenson and the Nationals agreed to a $850,000 salary before the lockout.

The Nationals said in a statement Tuesday that it will “continue to negotiate” with the Soto, Bell and Robles — their starting right fielder, first baseman and center fielder.

Sotoin his second year of arbitration, is projected for a $16.2 million payday after his National League MVP runner-up campaign, while MLBTradeRumors guesses $10 million for Bell (final arbitration-eligible season) and $1.7 million for Robles (first arbitration year). Soto23, and Bell, 29, made $8.5 million and $6.35 million, respectively, last year. Robles Meanwhile, is a challenging situation, as the former top prospect struggled mightily last season and spent time in Triple-A.

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