Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wang, Bruney, Burnett, Benson and Dukes

Click here for info on the spring training fundraising campaign

A hearty good morning to everyone in NatsTown, where the sun is finally out but the snow is showing no signs of melting. Viera can't come soon enough.

Several news tidbits to share at this hour...

-- No new developments, really, in the Chien-Ming Wang story. I know there are some reports out there (mostly stemming from a Chinese newspaper, I believe) that say it's a done deal and he's signed with the Nationals for $2 million plus incentives. But I've been told by multiple sources that it's not done yet. It certainly appears to be moving in a positive direction from Washington's standpoint, but it's not done and probably won't be for several more days.

-- It's getting close to arbitration time, with hearings scheduled to take place next week in the Tampa area for the Nats' two yet-unsigned arbitration-eligible players: relievers Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett. While last-minute settlements often take place in these cases -- remember last year when Jim Bowden worked out deals with Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham after both had already flown to Arizona for their hearings? -- it does not appear that will be the case this year. A source familiar with the Nats' two cases this spring said GM Mike Rizzo is committed to taking both Bruney and Burnett to hearings and not settling in advance. Bruney, whose hearing is scheduled for Tuesday (Feb. 16), is asking for $1.85 million. The Nats are offering $1.5 million. Burnett, whose hearing is scheduled for Thursday (Feb. 18) is asking for $925,000. The Nats are offering $775,000.

-- Even if the Nationals wind up signing Wang, they're still looking for more veteran pitching help. Indeed, they've had discussions with the agent for right-hander Kris Benson within the last two days, according to a source familiar with the talks. Benson, of course, is the former No. 1 overall draft pick of the Pirates back in 1996 whose career has been derailed by injuries (and the exploits of his attention-seeking wife, Anna). He pitched only 22 1/3 innings last season for the Rangers, and prior to that, last pitched in the majors in 2006 for the Orioles. So obviously any deal with the Nats would be non-guaranteed and incentive-laden. If nothing else, the source said, Benson could serve some purpose as a mentor for Stephen Strasburg, having been through just about everything Strasburg could now face as a fellow No. 1 pick.

-- It's also the time of year for all players with less than three years of big-league service time to agree to contract terms, and the Nationals have begun this process. They've agreed with outfielder Elijah Dukes on a one-year, $444,000 deal. It's a modest raise for Dukes, who last season made $411,500, and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what the Nats plan to do with the infielder formerly known as Esmailyn Gonzalez in 2010. Has anyone heard anything recently?

JayB said...

Just cut Smiley.....he will never get a visa to enter the US and it just reminds everyone of how poorly this organization has been run under Plan 1.0 to 3.2...addition by subtraction makes perfect sense here.

An Briosca Mor said...

If nothing else, the source said, Benson could serve some purpose as a mentor for Stephen Strasburg, having been through just about everything Strasburg could now face as a fellow No. 1 pick.

Strasburg just got married. Would Benson be mentoring him on the life of a married ballplayer? Not sure we really want that.

JMW4th said...

Kris Benson? meh. whatever. I don't see how he'll help, but I don't see how he'd hurt either on a Minor League deal.

Kenz aFan said...

Man, us Nats fans sure are a weird bunch. Even when there's no news of consequence, we still end up reading between the lines. Now let me see, what can I get from between the lines of this article. Don't rush me, I'm thinking.

natsfan1a said...

I prefer tea leaves, myself. ;-)

Steveospeak said...

Hopefully the Wang deal will get done in the next few days. I think he will offer nice depth to our starting rotation, as well as potentially open up the Pacific Rim for international free agents.

As for the Arb. cases I'm a bit surprised that they are both going to go to the arbitrator. Esp. Bruney since he didn't pitch for us at all last season. I know neither one of these guys are all-stars but why burn bridges with them during the hearing about telling them why they aren't worth the money.

Johnny Baconbitz said...

On the 2 arb fellows, seems the $ is very close. Why antagonize them? Keep stockpiling more pitching, more pitching, more pitching...

JohninMPLS said...

That's a total salary difference of half a million, right? It's not my money, but why split hairs?

If they split the difference and reach deals with both, they buy good feelings for just $250,000 (and that's assuming they would have won both cases).

Mark Zuckerman said...

Can't disagree with your guys' logic, and I was surprised to hear that the Nats are almost certain to go to hearings with both guys. But this might be based more on principle than actual numbers. They tried to strike deals with both players before the arbitration-filing deadline last month but couldn't get it done. Once the deadline passes, Rizzo apparently doesn't believe in opening up negotiations again. Just the way he prefers to operate.

An Briosca Mor said...

Rizzo's statement that he's willing to go to a hearing with Bruney and Burnett is nothing but a negotiating tactic. Look for them both to come to agreement before a hearing, even though it might be at the 11th hour a la Zimmerman and Willingham last year.

Positively Half St. said...

ABM-

The Benson marriage-mentoring crack got a chuckle from me. It does seem that marrying a model for mens' magazines shows a lapse in judgment to be taken into account by any GM.

NattyLite said...

if you make it to 10k does that mean you will be covering spring training next year too?

Mr. Doggett said...

Just curious...do you think Wang would make any difference in attendence numbers at the park by bringing in more Chinese fans?

An Briosca Mor said...

How ironic would it be if they sign the Taiwanese Wang, then he wins the fan-choice bobblehead competition and his bobble (heh heh he said Wang bobble) is made in Communist China? International incident, anyone? Could it be enough to finally get Obama out to the ballpark?

Neato Torpedo said...

Man, Kris Benson? Really? /sigh

I keep wondering where Smoltz is in these conversations. Is he just holding for a contender? If not, and you want a mentor for Strasburg, it seems like THAT would be the guy.

alm1000 said...

No No No. Not Smoltz. I hate the Braves.

natsfan1a said...

I am so not a Braves fan, but I have to admit that I've always kinda liked Smoltz.

Also, there's a nice piece on the ST campaign over on the Mister Irrelevant blog (sorry, I couldn't get the exact link to copy for me - you'll need to navigate to the Nationals section):

misterirrelevant.com

Post a Comment