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 for 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, keep 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 it 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 pickings slim 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.
It's a rotation, one must figure, that will be without what was its most durable member the last two seasons.