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Morse, Lannan file arbitration figures

Jan 18, 2012, 12:18 AM EDT

Unable to come to terms on one-year contracts in advance of today's deadline, the Nationals and left fielder Michael Morse and left-hander John Lannan submitted formal arbitration figures to Major League Baseball.

Morse, coming off a breakthrough season in which he led the club with a .303 average, 31 homers and 95 RBI and ranked fourth in the National League with a .550 slugging percentage, is asking for a $5 million salary this year. The Nationals countered with an offer of $3.5 million.

That's a fairly sizable gap, perhaps suggesting the two sides will need to go to an arbitration hearing next month to determine which of the two figures is chosen. Morse made $1.05 million last season, the first time he was arbitration-eligible.

The difference between Lannan ($5.7 million) and the Nationals ($5 million) is not nearly as great, perhaps suggesting a deal can be worked out before a hearing is held in Florida. The lefty went 10-13 with a career-best 3.70 ERA in 33 starts last season, also his first of arbitrationRead more ยป

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Reposting on this very subject.Remember that the arbitration system doesn't purport to establish what a player 'deserves' or his 'true value' or anything of the sort. The panel considers a number of different factors — not least the player's years of MLB service — and looks for comparable stats from comparable players in deciding which of the two offers is more in line with league norms. In the past, MLBTR has run some useful explanations of how this is done (particular what stats are most valued). They also do a prediction (based on these stats) of what each player is likely to get. And for Mr. Morse they came up with $3.9m. Given the way the system works, that would put the Nats' offer a lot closer to his predicted salary than Mr. Morse's proposal would. I'm not suggesting that the MLBTR numbers are perfect, but if they've come up with a good formula, then the panel might well be inclined to go with the Nats' $3.5m offer. What we don't know, however, is what number the Nats have been using in private negotiations with Mr. Morse and his agent. If that number is — let's say — around $4m, making the $3.5m the official offer could well lead to a mutually agreed settlement in the low $4s. That's what I would expect.

  2. Steady Eddie - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    I'd still be surprised if the Nats don't cut a deal with Morse before the actual arbitration hearing, and suspect they're just waiting to see, if they get Fielder, whether they can deal LaRoche to anyone else, and if, how much of his salary they have to eat. Not sure why that would affect where they would go with Morse, except to see how reliant they would have to be on having Morse as a serious first base backup — that is, of they don't get Fielder, Morse is even more crucial as long as LaRoche's effectiveness is still in question (through ST at least, obviously).

  3. Steady Eddie - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Eugene — all that sounds reasonable, but Morse's agent knows that too. So if he knows the arbitrator is likely to be closer to the Mats, why not split the difference on a deal at $4.25 and not take a chance on something lower?Unless neither side expects the arbitration to happen and are just waiting to sort the other stuff out, including a possible extension per what Mark wrote this morning.

  4. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    I think the $3.5M is a low-ball offer to Morse. My God, he was the team MVP, led them in all of the important batting categories!! He WAS the offense last year. Surely they can do better than $3.5M??? And Morse's $5M is a bit high, from all that I've read. Here's hoping they come together at around $4.25M. Who knows what discussions are taking place behind closed doors?

  5. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    And the stats definitely show without a doubt that Lannan was the least effective starter … more so than Yunesky Maya and Livan Hernandez. But a wide gap. the 10-13 record and 3.70 ERA are misleading. The best starter was Jordan Zimmermann hands down with a pRAA of around 14. He isn't getting paid 5 million. Gio was a more effective starter. As was Detwiler and Strasburg albeit in fewer appearances. As was Gorzelanny.And Lannan might just end up in AAA optioned there to provide veteran depth. No, Lannan doesn't deserve 5 million much less 5.7 million. If Morse does't Lannan sure as shootin' DOES NOT. And if they did it would make it extremely difficult to trade him!!!??

  6. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    As a loyal fan, I'm getting more than a little tired of the Nats front office treating Morse poorly. Give him the money, he's worth much more than he's asking.What is with Rizzo? Doesn't he realize that without the kind of year Morse had not to mention his great defense at first, that the Nats would have been 5-8 games worse — at least.Pay him the Money. He's the only Nat that's truly earned it on the field.

  7. gonatsgo - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    In the absence of live baseball I have been listening to the mlb hot stove shows a lot. They have talked at length about the way pitching has become dominant, averages and runs scored have been down and there are just not a lot of good hitters out there. Big bats seem to be in demand — hence the interest in the big guy from Milwaukee. It seems to me that if you happened to come across a hitter,almost by accident in a trade with say, Seattle, and got him really cheap to begin with ( for Langerhans), – you might want to try to keep him happy and keep him around, because there is probably someone else who would value that bat. Perhaps with our lack of offense, Michael Morse is someone we, well ,kind of — NEED. It will be interesting to see how arbitration goes, if it gets that far. John Lannan certainly has tenure with the Nats and his era is not bad. You may not think he is worth much, but you never know with arbitration.

  8. John C. - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    I am quite surprised that people believe that the arbitration process is supposed to produce the actual value of what a player is "worth" at every step of the process – and therefore that Michael Morse should be paid (x) amount, and Lannan should be paid (y) amount. Or that Clippard should get more than Gorzelanny. Etc.Arbitration is rather a way of allowing players to approximate their market value, more closely approximating the value as they go from year to year of arbitration. An all-star player in year 1 of arbitration is going to make less than a journeyman player in their final year of arbitration. Casting aspersions on the team's motives for "shortchanging" a player early in the process doesn't reveal as much about the Nationals as an organization as it does the level of understanding of the fan.

  9. SonnyG10 - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    I think they'll both do a deal before the arbitration hearings. Hope so anyway.

  10. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    You can talk all you want to about what arbitration is supposed to really mean. Bottom line is the Nats offered their MVP and batting leader only $3.5M a year. Baloney! Like someone else already posted, I am getting very tired of how the Nats have treated Morse. He's the only player who truly more than earned his salary last year, among the starting batters – the ONLY one. The Nats also thought that Werthless should get $16M a year. Something is WRONG with this picture.

  11. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Arbitration numbers filed to MLB: Morse $5 million vs Nats $3.5 ____________________________________That is right in the range you would expect. Most likely the Nats will win on precedent given 2nd year for a player making $1,050,000 this year. That is over 300% increase.The fair number like I said early this morning would be $4 million which is why I suggested an $18 million 3 year deal. $4 mill to $6 mill to $8 mill. $4 million is more than the cumulative of what Morse has made his entire life. Its beyond me how Lannan and the Nats couldn't meet in the middle however I can see that the Nats and Morse have a much different view of a 2nd year in Arbitration is worth.

  12. Anonymous8 - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Gonat, I can see $21 million for Morse. $4.0mm, $7.0mm, $10.0mm. I hope Morse gets his 3 year deal.

  13. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Anon's, When people stop thinking salaries are handed out with the heart instead of as a business using their brain, you will understand how this works. Morse has an agent advising him and Rizzo definitely knows how it works. Rizzo's agent should have come in at $4.5 million which is why they may lose. Arb's go only 2 ways, not in the middle so it will either be $3.5 or $5 million if they don't come to an agreement beforehand.Mark predicted $4,000,000 also:http://www.natsinsider.com/2011/11/12-payroll-should-increase.html

  14. SpingfieldNatsFan1 - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Show some loyalty, pay Morse what he's worth! He's certainly worth more than 3.5 million to the sad offense we put on the field last year. I'll take M&M pound for pound over that Midwest "vegetarian" any day!

  15. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    Anon @ 9:03,It's perfectly reasonable to argue that the system is "WRONG," as you suggest. But it remains the system in place and, unless I'm mistaken, has been accepted by the players in both the old and the new collective bargaining agreement. It underpays younger/newer players, while overpaying veterans. Everyone knows that. And to be clear, I'm not defending the system. But given that it exists, Mr. Morse is unlikely to get the $5m he's seeking. More likely, there's a bit of kabuki theater going on here and we will see some sort of an agreement (whether one-year or multi-year is hard to say) reached before the sides ever sit down in front of the arbitration panel.Steady Eddie,Remember that neither the Nats nor Mr. Morse were required to make their figures known before today. We don't know what number the Nats were offering nor what number — if any — Mr. Morse and his agents were seeking. They may have been at $3m and $6m, they may have been at $4m and $7m — we just don't know. But now that we do know (or, much more importantly, they know) what the arbitration panel has to decide between, there's a good chance they do end up with some type of negotiated agreement. Assuming, of course, that the Nats don't adopt the 'no more negotiations' position. But I doubt that will happen.

  16. Anonymous8 - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Eugene, well said. It is the system. I just believe the Nats wanted to be at no more than $4 million especially sets up the 2013 contract which would be around $7 which is why the conversation that started this morning on Morse's numbers on a 3 year deal is so smart. The numbers will migrate towards the system devised numbers.

  17. whatsanattau - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Blood sucking management or greedy money grubbing employee … neither actually. $1.5M difference does not seem that significant to me. Either side could lose and neither side should be too upset to lose. But more importantly, they should be motivated to resolve the difference prior to the hearing. Remember few cases actually go to hearing. Many result in one year deals, some in multi-year deals. As it happens, if Fielder signs with another team, signing Morse to a multi-year deal makes even more sense. If Fielder signs with the Nats, then signing Morse beyond one year (maybe 2) makes less sense. … wait for it, other shoe to drop later this week.

  18. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    You want to be far apart, travel up to Baltimore where they are $3,000,000 apart: Jeremy Guthrie filed at $10.25M, Orioles at $7.25M

  19. Anonymous8 - Jan 18, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    The Orioles are so dysfunctional. Adam Jones didn't get a contract either.Adam Jones filed for $7.4MM, while the Orioles offered $5MMOne of the things to look at is the agents who represent the player. Jones is with CAA like Lannan. You see how close the Nats and Lannan are on their number but look how far apart the Orioles and Jones are apart.Jones is in his 2nd year of arbitration. They are over 40% apart on Guthrie and Jones.

  20. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    MLBTR calls the Nats arbitration style as "have stuck to 'file and trial' policies in the past" meaning that once they have exchanged numbers for arbitration numbers they head to the arbitration hearings. Amanda Comak said the same thing. I guess that is true since the 2009 season but is that a concrete policy or just coincidence?On Lannan, they are so close it is a waste of time, cut the difference and call it a day. On Morse, the Nats will win, but do you allow Morse's camp to make a compromise so you don't faceoff with the player?

  21. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 18, 2012 at 3:59 AM

    They came to agreement with Zimmerman right before the hearing itself, so apparently they aren't fanatics about it.

  22. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Sec3, wasn't that 2009 on Zim? I don't neccesarily agree with MLBTR and Comak so thinking it is a coincidence the last 2 years.

  23. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    Actually, percentage-wise, the significance of the gap between the Nats and Morse is big. Taking $1.5M less is a 30% decrease from what Morse filed for. Adding $1.5M to what the Nats filed is a 42% increase to their offer. You can't just look at the overall difference of $1.5M. You have to analyze it in comparison to the two figures which were filed.

  24. lesatcsc - Jan 18, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    Since no one is offering me 3.5M or 5.0M to play a game, it sounds like either way Mr Morse will come out of this a big winner. Particularly since he will get it even if he hits .152 and is out of baseball in July. I'm finding it hard to get overwrought about this discussion. It would simply be better for all concerned if they could reach an amicable agreement rather than going through an adversarial arbitration hearing.

  25. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    Perhaps you are right … They're doomed to arbitrate and the season is lost. I'll check the Orioles site for season ticket info.

  26. Farid @ Idaho - Jan 18, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    I love Morse but I don't think now is the right time to offer him anything but a one-year deal.For better or worse, Jayson Werth is locked in right for the foreseeable future (and I do think he'll bounce back to a .275-20-75 type of year) and Bryce Harper needs to play left in the majors. He's going to become a really big guy based on his frame type. He'll be an excellent fielder, but he won't be swift enough to play center.So it all depends on Prince Fielder. If the negotiations crash and burn (something I still think will happen), then LaRoche plays first for most of this year, gets traded and Morse moves back to first, handing left to Harper. Too many variables to hand him a 3-year, $24 million deal. But if the team does sign Fielder, Morse becomes a heckuva trade piece, maybe for that elusive center fielder the team needs so badly. but I don't see how Morse and Fielder remain with the team long term, especially if Harper is ready sooner rather than later.

  27. sjm308 - Jan 18, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    So, once again the rational people (usually with handles and I do understand that is still anonymous but never the less a name to identify with), have either encouraged patience or justified both Morse and the Nationals on their actions. The neganons, and I went back to make sure it was just anons, have talked about heading up to baltimore for tickets, or blasted the FO in a barage of negativity. Its just amazing to me that you can't be negative and also have a name. The Nationals aren't perfect and deserve to be criticized at times but this is not one of them. This is just a process and I believe both players will be happy with the results in the very near future. Meanwhile, the neganons have something to vent about even if its meaningless.

  28. baseballswami - Jan 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    So – why don't we have a countdown clock for 5pm today? Presumably nothing in the baseball world that is important can happen until after that time, which is the deadline for YU to be signed by Texas. So Yu signs this afternoon and PF signs with us tomorrow? Less than twelve hours — tick, tock, tick, tock.

  29. Anonymous8 - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    sjm, I think the Anon @11:40 who said "season is lost. I'll check the Orioles site for season ticket info" was being facetious as that person was commenting on some of the other 'the world is ending' comments.There are some Anon's acting like the Nats made a big mistake. Decide that after Lannan/Morse are resolved.I think Rizzo is very good at this "game" if it gets to that. They beat Bruney and Burnett 2 years ago.My opinion is there is nothing to win in Lannan's case as they are so close and history seems to say they will win on Morse if they do go to the arbitration hearing. Hopefully the Nats come to an agreement on both beforehand.

  30. MicheleS - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Anyone see the Lincecum/Giants Arb numbers… We could be dealing with that in a few years with Stras. Of course if Stras has a CY and a WS under his belt, he will be worth every penny as well!

  31. Gonat - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    MicheleS – Absolutely correct and dream a little dream for me! The lesson learned is locking up studs like JZim & Stras early. JZim should take a Gio type of deal and Stras has Boras advising him so we will see!

  32. baseballswami - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    MicheleS – Agreed — the numbers we see seem big until you look at Cole Hamels getting 15M a year and Lincecum possibly getting 20. I think our entire pitching staff might be 20 this year.I still hope JZ gets a longer contract at some point. Will the Darvish deal get done today? 4:59?

  33. Theophilus - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    The idea of offering Lannan $5MM tells me the Nats are Nordstrom's customers (after signing Gonzalez) shopping at Wal-Mart. They are big spenders when they should be bargain shopping. They're offering Lannan a 65% raise for being a bullpen-eating ticking aneurysm every time he takes the mound.In both cases the odds they will settle are prohibitive — 54 players exchanged nos.; last year three went to arbitration. So, about 1 chance in 18 there'll actually be a hearing.The low-ball offer to Morse is difficult to 'splain in light of the money being thrown at Lannan. What I see is a stubborn refusal on Morse's part to budge from a demand for $5MM (or a multi-year deal) and bridge the gap between, say, $5MM and $3.75MM. So the Nats moved back instead of forward. I still don't think there will be a hearing. Morse will decide the chances of losing and being maligned in front of an arbitrator aren't worth three-quarters of a million.

  34. Wally - Jan 18, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Players and teams aren't putting forward numbers indicative of their market value, they are running the comps to determine what they think the arbitrator will assess, and then how much above (or below) the other side will be, and then they try to be $1 better (closer) than that. Because the arbitrator has to pick the number closest to their estimate of value, not a compromise.Lannan and the team are so close because Lannan has a comparatively long track record of performance to measure against, so it isn't as much of a crapshoot. Morse, on the other hand, isn't so easy to judge. He had a fantastic year, but only 1 as a full time starter. So his career stats are low for a 2d year arb guy. So Morse is betting that he can persuade the arbitrator to more heavily weight last year; the team is betting on a career weighting. My guess is the team wins (if they don't settle beforehand).Just guessing, but I don't think today's Yu signing is as meaningful for Fielder as a lot of people. Boras is too cagey to let it all come down to this. I have a feeling he winds up with texas regardless of today's events. Hope that I am wrong.

  35. Theophilus - Jan 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    One factor favoring TX and FL in the Fielder sweepstakes is that neither has a state income tax. Hence a dollar there is worth only 94 cents in DC (6% tax). If Fielder earns half of his income in DC and half on the road — players pay tax in the jurisdictions where they play — the difference could be three-quarters of a million/year ($6MM over eight years). Buys a lot of cheeseburgers.(Story that Rangers were "impressed" with Fielder's "physique" is a yuk. Dude hasn't seen his toes since middle school.)

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