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Clippard, Fister will go to arbitration

Jan 17, 2014, 9:10 PM EST

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Unable to come to terms on contracts before Friday’s 1 p.m. deadline, right-handers Tyler Clippard and Doug Fister and the Nationals formally filed dueling arbitration figures to Major League Baseball headquarters.

Hearings before a three-judge panel will be set for next month, though both players and the Nationals are free to continue negotiating and could settle on salary figures on their own anytime before then.

Clippard is in the third of four seasons of arbitration eligibility, having qualified as a “Super 2” player in 2012. He made $4 million last year and is seeking $6.35 million in 2014; the Nationals countered with an offer of $4.45 million.

Fister, acquired from the Tigers in December for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray, is in the second of three arbitration seasons, having earned $4 million last year in Detroit. He is seeking an $8.5 million salary in 2014. The Nationals have offered $5.5 million, a significant gap.

Clippard and Fister were the only two of Washington’s 10 arbitration-eligible players who were unable to sign before Friday’s deadline. Ross Ohlendorf ($1.25 million) signed in December. Stephen Strasburg ($3.975 million) signed last week. Ross Detwiler ($3 million) signed late Thursday night. Jordan Zimmermann (2 years, $24 million), Ian Desmond (2 years, $17.5 million), Drew Storen ($3.45 million), Wilson Ramos ($2.095 million) and Jerry Blevins (unknown) all signed Friday before the deadline.

  1. David Proctor - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    Both will settle, especially Fister. There’s no way they go to arbitration in his first year here.

  2. David Proctor - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    Eugene, from the other thread, why so interested in a 2 year deal?

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Good question. In my mind, once you’re reasonably confident you’ve got a consistently good player you go ahead and try to buy out the remaining arbitration years at a price that’s both fair to the player and fair value for the club. As I’ve written a couple of times recently, I think the arbitration system baseball uses is pretty darn effective at setting a ‘true value’ for players. And I’d say you should use it — particularly with just two seasons left before free agency — to lock ’em up and avoid that final year arbitration dance.

      Moreover — and here’s where I think it helps the team in a somewhat cold-hearted way — once the player has inked a two-year deal, the team has the option of trading them with a ‘price certain’ attached to that final year. And while I certainly don’t see the Nats trading either Mr. Fister or Mr. Clippard this year (although you never know), having them on two-year contracts makes them — in my mind, at least — more attractive to other teams if you want to move them between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

  3. scnatsfan - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Welcome to Dzc Fister…. And we undervalue you

    • nats128 - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:09 AM

      It’s a process. Fister will get a considerable raise.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    By the way, I see that the Nats offer ($4.45m) to Tyler Clippard is significantly less than the $6.2m MLBTR had projected, while his proposal ($6.35m) is just slightly higher. If you believe — as the past two years have pretty much demonstrated — that MLBTR has cracked the code (meaning the metrics) that arbitration panel uses, then the odds would seem to very much favor Mr. Clippard. Given the season he had, it’s hard to imagine the Nats defending only a $450k raise without disparaging some significant aspect(s) of Mr. Clippard’s performance. I can’t understand why the Nats have chosen to go that route, but — in purely monetary and probability terms — they may well have given Mr. Clippard a pretty strong incentive to let the panel decide.

    In Doug Fister’s case, the MLBTR projection($6.9m) is pretty much the mid-point between the Nats offer ($5.5m) and Mr. Fister’s proposal ($8.5m). If you assume — in his case — there’s about a 50/50 chance the arbitration panel goes either way, then the expected values (if I remember my stats correctly) are going to pretty much balance out. I’m thinking that really does create an incentive for both sides to settle around that mid-point without going to the panel.

    • David Proctor - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      I believe the case the Nationals would make about Tyler Clippard has less to do with performance and more to do with how he is being classified. Saves pay in arbitration. Clippard was paid last year as a closer, based on his 30+ saves in 2012. The Nationals would likely argue that Clippard was merely filling in for injury and has never truly been a closer, was not a closer in 2013 and will not be a closer in 2014. Thus, he shouldn’t get an arbitration raise commensurate with that of a closer. Clippard’s camp would argue that Clippard has proven he can close and is really a closer miscast as a setup man for the good of the team. The Nats would point out that Clippard’s ERA as a setup man is 2.55 while his ERA as a closer was 3.72–he’s a setup guy and he’s right where he belongs.

      Interesting stuff.

      • David Proctor - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:20 AM

        Having said all that, I still think Clippard wins in an arb hearing, if it gets there.

  5. David Proctor - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    Something to keep in mind: arbitration is supposed to represent 40/60/80 percent of market value, depending on what level of arbitration you’re on. For Arb3 next year, JZim is getting paid 16.5 million. That means seem to mean his market value, in his and apparently the Nationals’ eyes…is around 20.5 million.

    That’s not quite the case. MLBTR projected $10.5M for Zimmermann this year in Arb2 and he only got 7.5. So that 2-year contract is backloaded a bit. But assume the overall 24M contract is fairly accurate. Take away the 10.5 from Arb2 and 13.5 is his Arb3 number. 13.5 is 80% of 17, so they seem to think his market is somewhere in the $17M range. But again, these things are all estimates. I have to think the Nationals would have given him 6/102 (17 per year) if he would’ve taken it.

    JZimm and Grinke are very similar pitchers. Yes, Greinke’s had better seasons than JZimm–including a 2.16ERA that won him the Cy Young. But, his career ERA is 3.65, JZimm’s is 3.40. Greinke’s career ERA+ is 116, JZimm’s is 115. All the advanced stats find them very similar. Greinke had a 90FIP- in 2013, JZimm 89.

    Of course, Greinke signed a deal for 6 years and 147 million. That’s $24.5M per year. It’s very, very hard for me to see the JZimm accepting less than $20M per year. And it’s hard for me to see the Nationals offering him that much.

  6. natsjackinfl - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Neither one of these cases should go to arbitration. Both are certainly worth more than the Nats offer but neither is worthy of the significant raise they are presenting to the arbitrator although Clippards is more in line based on performance.

    Seems that both are in for the 2 year contract takes them through 2015.

  7. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    It would be nice if we can do that with Clip and Fister as well.

  8. micksback1 - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    a couple thoughts here, is it a big deal about Fister, we just signed him and Post reports that Nats have a month before it would actually go to arbitration. also, I am wondering if Rizzo’s thinking on Clip is to actually trade him for a power hitter or prospect, this assumes that Storen is back. just a thought

  9. micksback1 - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    as much as I like Clip, if he gets off to a great start and the other BP pitchers are playing well and Storen is on, Nats could get the better end of any trade for Clip

  10. NatsLady - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM


    This table (by an Atl writer) shows where Clip and Fister stand.





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