Nats Re-Sign Harris, Non-Tender Redding

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, December 12, 2008 | , , , | 6 comments »

The Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they have agreed to terms with outfielder Willie Harris to a two-year contract. Terms were undisclosed.

Harris enjoyed a career year in first season with the Nationals, as he set career highs with 13 home runs, 43 RBI and a .417 slugging percentage. He also had 13 steals and played excellent defense at several positions.

Buried at the bottom of the release was the information that the Nats offered contracts to four of the five players eligible for arbitration: 3B Ryan Zimmerman, OF Josh Willingham, LHP Scott Olsen and RHP Shawn Hill. However, the team did not tender a contract to their most effective and durable starter the last two seasons, veteran Tim Redding.

All Redding has done the last two seasons was take the ball when asked and, for the most part, kept them in the game. In his Nationals career, he is 13-17 with a 4.53 ERA in 48 starts.

We can only guess that the team thinks that they can re-sign him cheaper as a free agent than he would make in arbitration. It's either that or he doesn't figure to be in their plans at all.

The Nats almost traded Redding to the Colorado Rockies at last year's trade deadline, and rumors swirled during this weeks Winter Meetings that a deal with the Rockies was scuttled agains when outfielder Willie Taveras failed a physical.

Allowing Redding to become a free agent puts him on the market, one that might find the picking slim and dry over the winter. It's widely speculated that veterans like Redding will have a tough time banking a big contract this off-season due to the economic uncertainty in the country, uncertainty that is creeping into the finances of baseball as well.

But it is surprising and confusing that the last couple of weeks the Nats have gone out of their way in the press to say that they are not in the market for starting pitching, yet they just discarded their most consistent and durable starter of the last two seasons.

Redding, 30, made just $1 million last year in base salary.

Shawn Hill, injured most of last season, will enter spring training with John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Collin Balestar, Shairon Martis, Jason Bergmann, Garrett Mock and perhaps Jordan Zimmermann in a competition for positions in the starting rotation.

A rotation, one must figure at this point, that will be without what was its most durable member the last two seasons.

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2008.

6 comments

  1. Kenny G // December 12, 2008 at 7:13 PM  

    Making room for future signings/trades???

  2. Dave Nichols // December 12, 2008 at 8:27 PM  

    i think it's just that the Nats don't want to have to pay Redding at $2M or so he would have won in arbitration. it's a tricky game to play though with all the youngsters they already were going to have to count on.

  3. denise // December 13, 2008 at 3:02 PM  

    I am furious about this. Remember last spring--Redding was guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation because he finished the year with an era under 4. So he goes out there and has a great first half and a marginal 2nd half. How many starts did he have? 30? And the Nats won how many of those--even if he did not get the decision? 20? He mentored the younger guys, participated in countless community service events. And he should have started on Opening Day.

    $2-$3 million is chump change compared to what they are offering Tex. I know Tim isn't Nolan Ryan, but we could count on him.

    I guess we should be used to Bowden and his bonehead decisions by now.

    Thanks Tim for all you've done for the Nats! You deserve better than this!!!

  4. Dave Nichols // December 13, 2008 at 10:01 PM  

    very well said Denise. all he did was take the ball when they asked him in front of a AAAA line-up at times. he deserved better.

  5. Hendo // December 14, 2008 at 11:16 AM  

    I can't say I'm thrilled about this. It's all good to practice the virtues of building a young team, but why do I just know the Nats are going to trot another Odalis Perez or two out there next season -- and not for much less than $2MM apiece, about what Redding would've earned? 'Tis a puzzlement.

  6. An Briosca Mor // December 17, 2008 at 3:40 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.