Over the weekend, the Nationals signed a couple of pitchers to contracts for the upcoming season on vastly different terms.

On Friday, the Nats took a pitcher that has been part of the organization since their days in Quebec Province to arbitration over $275,000. Shawn Hill became the first Major League player this winter to not be able to come to an equitable agreement with his team and face off at the arbitration table.

Hill, who earned $402,000 in 2008, was awarded the $775,000 he requested from the Nationals, who had countered with $500,000.

The process is unpleasant for all, and most teams and agents do what they can to avoid it. That the Nats braintrust felt it necessary to fight over $275,000, despite the player, is telling. Hill, for his part, took the high road.

"I was very happy, obviously," Hill told The Post. "Somewhat surprised, just knowing that the owners do have the advantage historically and they've been 60 or 65 percent in the last couple years. We were kind of going up against it. I didn't expect it to go...to the hearing, but I'm pleased with the outcome."
During an injury-plagued 2008 season, Hill went 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts. The 27-year-old right-hander didn't pitch after June 24 and had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, performed by Dr. James Andrews on Sept. 5.

Then on Sunday, Washington announced that it had avoided arbitration with left hander Scott Olsen, acquired in November along with outfielder Josh Willingham (who has his own date with the arbitration panel). The two sides agreed on a one-year, $2.8 million contract. Olsen had asked for $3.5 million, while the Nats countered with $2.5.

Olsen went 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA in 2008 for the Florida Marlins.

So Olsen avoids having his new team make all kinds of disparaging remarks about his K/BB rate and BABIP-inflated ERA while Hill had to endure listening to how he's always hurt and can't make enough of an impression since he pitched injured last year.

Tough business.