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 arbitration eligibility. He earned $2.75 million.
The Nationals have not gone to arbitration since 2010, when they beat both relievers Sean Burnett and Brian Bruney in hearings.