Drew Storen avoids arbitration with Nationals, gets one-year, $2.5 million deal

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The Nationals and right-hander Drew Storen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. Storen’s agent, CAA Baseball, made the announcement on Twitter and added that the deal includes $1 million in performance bonuses.

This is a pretty nice chunk of change for Storen, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter as a Super Two player. The 25-year-old remains under team control through 2016.

Storen was solid after returning from elbow surgery last season, including a 2.37 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings during the regular season, but he experienced a meltdown during Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. The Nationals signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million contract this week and plan to use him as their closer, so Storen will pitch in a set-up role in 2013. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo insisted today that the decision to add Soriano had nothing to do with the NLDS and that he still feels Storen is a closer.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.