Nats do not offer arbitration to free agents

The Nationals did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, which include catcher Josh Bard, right-hander Livan Hernandez, outfielder Austin Kearns, left-hander Ron Villone and first baseman Dmitri Young.

None of the players were Type A or B free agents — rankings are based on a player’s performance during the previous two seasons.

In the last two seasons, Young played in only 50 games because of illness and injury. His best season with the Nationals was in 2007 when hit .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs, earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Villone is arguably the only Nationals free agent, who has a chance of coming back to the organization. Manager Jim Riggleman called the reliever a leader by example, because he wants to pitch on a regular basis and watches the game from the dugout after completing his work on the mound. Villone pitched in 63 games and had a 4.25 ERA.

“Ronnie sets a great example,” Riggleman said in August. “He takes the ball more than anybody. He is 39 years old, but he is willing to pitch every day, which I think says a lot. It indicates to some other pitchers that this guy has been around a long time.”  

Kearns was a great teammate and worked hard, but one could argue that he was the biggest disappointment in Nationals history when it came to his offense. He came to Washington with a lot of hype after then -general manager Jim Bowden acquired him from the Reds in July of 2006. 

The former GM predicted that Kearns would hit 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs in a season, but that never happened. Kearns best season with the Nationals was in 2007, when he hit .266 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. A lot of baseball experts felt he was too vulnerable to inside pitches.

Injuries took a toll on Kearns during the next two seasons. He played only 86 games in 2008 because of elbow and foot problems.

This season was the worst season of his career, hitting .195 with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

Hernandez joined the Nationals as a free agent on Aug. 26 after the Mets released him six days earlier. His job was to give the Nationals innings and be a role model to the young pitching staff.  Hernandez pitched 48 2/3 innings and went 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA.

When catcher Jesus Flores missed most of the season with a right shoulder injury, Bard found himself in a platoon situation with Wil Nieves. Bard played in 90 games and hit .230 with two home runs and 31 RBIs.                      

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