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The Washington Nationals are a legitimate World Series contender in 2014, have the ability to carry a significant payroll and should be loading up on talent, not subtracting.
However, no team, regardless of October dreams, should pay relief pitchers more than they are worth.
In Drew Storen, the Nationals have a pitcher, due to the arbitration system, slated to make $3.45 million in 2014 during his inaugural arbitration-eligible season. It doesn't take a mathematician to realize that his salary will skyrocket before free agency arrives in 2017.
Of course, if Storen was the same pitcher he profiled as from 2010-12 (2.96 ERA, 3.00 SO/BB, 133 ERA+), the Nationals would probably be comfortable with him, along with Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard, as dominant, late-game options.
In 2013, Storen wasn't that pitcher. After posting a 4.52 ERA in 61.2 IP, the 26-year-old enters 2014 with questions surrounding his ability to help Washington win a pennant. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the team is considering moving Storen in order to free up money for a run at free-agent reliever Grant Balfour.
If the Nationals can convince a team that Storen is poised for his past success, it could be a coup, allowing them to sign the superior Balfour, leave Clippard in a setup role and, as Rosenthal explains, relegate Rafael Soriano away from pitching in enough games to trigger a $14 million vesting option for 2015.
By trading Storen, the Nationals can save money now, potentially field a better bullpen for 2014 with Balfour and stay away from a messy divorce with Soriano in 2015.
Your turn to play GM: Which arbitration-eligible players should be traded?
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