Dec 2, 2015, 6:19 PM EDT
Updated at 6:19 p.m.
The Nationals agreed to terms on 1-year contracts with Tyler Moore and Jose Lobaton, avoiding arbitration and assuring neither bench player would be non-tendered before Wednesday night’s deadline.
Moore’s deal is for $900,000, according to CBSSports.com. Lobaton’s deal is for $1.3875 million, according to the Washington Post.
The pair of settlements come on the day all MLB clubs must decide whether to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players (the deadline is midnight EST). The Nationals have eight such players, though most were locks to be tendered: Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Wilson Ramos, Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa and Lobaton. Moore and reliever Craig Stammen (who missed nearly the entire 2015 season following arm surgery) were the only candidates potentially to be non-tendered.
Moore faced an uncertain future with the organization after a disappointing season in which the 28-year-old hit just .203 with six homers, 27 RBI, a .250 on-base percentage and .614 OPS in 97 games. He particularly struggled when coming off the bench, with only five hits in 46 pinch-hit at-bats.
Given the fact he already was out of minor-league options throughout 2015, not to mention the emergence of Clint Robinson as a left-handed backup first baseman and corner outfielder, Moore was facing a career crossroads with the Nationals, who drafted him in 2008. In the end, the club chose to retain him on the $900,000 deal, slightly less than the $1 million he was projected to earn via arbitration (according to MLB Trade Rumors’ annual estimates).
Wednesday’s tendered contract doesn’t guarantee Moore actually makes the Nationals’ 2016 roster. The club could seek to trade him this winter to another team seeking a right-handed bat. Moore also would be a candidate to be released during spring training; if released more than 15 days before the season opener, the Nationals would be responsible only for one-sixth of Moore’s salary.
Lobaton, entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, gets a modest raise from his $1.2 million salary in 2015. The 31-year-old backup catcher struggled offensively this season, hitting a scant .199 with three homers, 20 RBI, a .279 on-base percentage and .573 OPS in 44 games. Members of the Nationals pitching staff, though, still give Lobaton strong reviews for his work behind the plate.
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