Nats will not tender contracts to Olsen, MacDougal [updated]

The Nationals decided on Saturday that they will not be tendering 2010 contracts to pitchers Mike MacDougal and Scott Olsen, who were eligible for arbitration.

Both players are coming off injuries. Olsen missed most of the season because of a small tear in his left labrum, going 2-4 with a 6.03 ERA in 11 games, while MacDougal, who ended the season as the Nationals’ closer, saved 20 games with a 3.60 ERA but needed offseason surgery on his right hip.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals were not willing to tender contracts to MacDougal and Olsen because they weren’t sure if they were going to be 100 percent healthy. Rizzo also did not rule out both players returning to the team. 

“These are very difficult decisions because these are guys that we really, really like,” Rizzo said. “They were great teammates this past season. These are business decisions. We have to do what is best for the franchise.

“With Scotty having the arm surgery at the end of the season, we are not sure where he is physically. We couldn’t take a chance offering him a contract and going to arbitration with him.

“Mike was the same type of situation. He did a nice job for us. He is a guy we really counted on this year. He performed well for us. With the little bit of inconsistency toward the end of the season and then the hip surgery, it was too big of a risk for us.”

Olsen, who made $2.8 million in 2009, said he was not surprised that he was non-tendered. He said the shoulder is 100 percent and hopes to return  to the Nationals because he feels the team is going in the right direction under Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman.

“It’s not an unexpected move by the organization. We have to see how this plays out,” Olsen said. “I don’t have any plans to go anywhere else since I got traded over there. I think Washington  is a great place to play. I would love to go back there.”

MacDougal expressed disappointment that he was non-tendered, in part,  because of his hip injury. He said that the hip is 100 percent and he will start working out at the end of this month.

“I’m disappointed,” MacDougal said. “I enjoyed playing there. I thought I did a good job, so yeah, it’s a little disappointing. What can you do? I’m a free agent and go from there.”

MacDougal’s agent, Rex Gary, said that Rizzo never told him that the hip played a role in MacDougal getting non-tendered.

“Michael was at the doctor and had a great report and everything is fantastic,” Gary said.  “The hip was never brought up as an issue and it really isn’t an issue.”

The Nationals have until midnight Saturday to tender a contract to outfielder Josh Willingham, catchers Jesus Flores and Wil Nieves and pitchers Jason Bergmann and Sean Burnett.

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