April 20, 2014

Nationals non-tender Slaten; free agent ranks grow

The Washington Nationals failed to tender a contract to LHP Doug Slaten by the midnight deadline yesterday, thus making the veteran left-hander a free agent.  Slaten, 31, was downright horrible in 2011, allowing 47 percent of inherited runners to score.  He pitched to a 4.41 ERA and simply incredible 2.143 WHIP in just 16 1/3 innings over 31 games and allowed left-handed batters to reach base at a .333/.368/.639 clip. 

Slaten was arbitration eligible this season, and though his salary would have still been modest, the Nats decided to cut ties with him regardless.

There were a few other names across MLB that were reportedly non-tendered that might be of interest to the Nats as they continue their search to bolster their rotation and bench.

Joe Saunders:  The Arizona Diamondbacks non-tendered the 30-year old left-handed starter.  Saunders is a D.C. local product, a graduate of West Springfield High and Virginia Tech.  Last season for the D-backs, Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.307 WHIP, striking out 4.6 per nine and walking 2.8 per nine.  He’s a poor man’s Mark Buerhle, and is capable of throwing a lot of innings for a team.  Is Saunders an upgrade over Ross Detwiler at this point of their careers?  Also, reports indicate Arizona is trying to lock up Saunders to a more favorable contract via free agency than they would have been stuck with through arbitration.

Hong-Chih Kuo: A left-handed reliever, Kuo was one of the best int he N.L. for several seasons, earning an All-Star nod in 2010 for his 3-2, 1.20 ERA, 0.783 WHIP season.  Last year he got roughed up and eventually required elbow surgery, but he’s expected to be ready for opening day.  In seven MLB seasons, Kuo has averaged 10.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, so if healthy he could really help a team out in need of a lefty reliever.

Ryan Theriot:  Theriot will probably look for a starting role somewhere and probably get it, but at this stage of his career he’s more suited for a utility role.  He could be a nice fit in D.C. as a utility player or possible replacement if a middle infielder was dealt for pitching.  In seven MLB seasons, Theriot has hit .282/.344/.353 with a SB ratio of 108/44.  He doesn’t have any pop, but is a decent fielder at second or shortstop and is one of those guys lauded for his “lunchpail” work ethic, if you believe in that sort of thing.

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