A Day After Being Non-Tendered, Scott Olsen Is Again a National

Farid RushdiAnalyst IDecember 13, 2009

PHOENIX - MAY 10:  Starting pitcher Scott Olsen #19 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on May 10, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Nationals 10-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well, well, it seems like the Washington Nationals are finally thinking like a major league franchise.


Just a day after non-tendering the supposedly-healthy-but-no-knows-for-sure Scott Olsen, the Nationals have agreed to sign him to a one-year, $1 million contract that with incentives that could pay him up to $4 million.


The incentives are all about starts, and he gets the whole wad if he starts 33 games, his personal high.


This is an excellent contract for both sides. If Olsen is not healthy, the Nationals will lose less than 1/60th of their team payroll. And if he is healthy, and he plugs that big hole in the starting rotation, he will be worth more than the $4 million he will earn.


In his two healthy seasons with the Marlins, Olsen’s average season was 10-10, 4.10 in 32 starts. He allowed 8.3 hits and 3.1 walks per nine-innings, and struck out 8.3.


If all goes well, Olsen will fill the third spot in the rotation, behind John Lannan and a yet as unsigned free agent pitcher (Jon Garland?). The last two spots could be filled from within, with J.D. Martin, Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler having the best chance to make the rotation.


If if if if if.


I know. Olsen could return to form and go 12-10, 4.10, or he could blow out his arm and be gone by May. But he's still only 25, and has more upside still to climb. Plus, it’s not like the Nationals are going to contend for a playoff spot in 2010.


Still, he may be the difference between a better year for the Nationals and a special one.


Stay tuned.