Storen signs with Nats, avoids arbitration

Storen signs with Nats, avoids arbitration
January 17, 2013, 9:45 pm
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The Nationals and Drew Storen came to terms tonight on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, avoiding what could have been a messy arbitration hearing.

The deal, which was announced by Storen's representatives at CAA, also includes up to $1 million in performance bonuses, all of them related to how many games he finishes this season.

That number figures to be much lower now than it would have been a few days ago, before the Nationals made the surprising move to sign veteran closer Rafael Soriano for a near-record $28 million over two years. With Soriano assured of the primary closer's role, according to general manager Mike Rizzo, Storen will miss out on dozens of opportunities to pitch the ninth inning.

Even with Soriano in the fold, though, Storen should get some opportunities to close, or to finish games that aren't save situations. If he finishes only 20 games this season, he'll earn an additional $250,000. The incentives continue every time he finishes another 10 games, up to another $250,000 bonus if he finishes 60 games for the season.

This agreement comes slightly more than 24 hours before all unsigned, arbitration-eligible players are required to formally submit offers to Major League Baseball. The sides are still free to negotiate over the next month, but in the event no deal is reached an arbitration hearing is held in February to determine the player's salary.

A hearing could have made for an awkward scene between Storen and the Nationals, who would have to make counter-arguments about his worth, made more uncomfortable by the recent addition of Soriano and thus a demotion of sorts for Storen.

In the end, Storen receives a sizable raise from his 2012 salary of $498,750. He got that hefty bump because he qualified for arbitration as a "Super 2" player, ranking among the top 22 percent of all major leaguers with more than two years and less than three years' service time.

Storen barely qualified for "Super 2" status based on the fact the Nationals first promoted him from the minors on May 17, 2010. That was 22 days before Stephen Strasburg made his big-league debut, leaving the ace right-hander ineligible for arbitration until next winter.

With Storen signed, the Nationals still have six other arbitration-eligible players who must either come to terms by Friday night or submit offers to MLB: Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen and Roger Bernadina.