Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/18/13

Coming off of a 2012 season that saw the club win a franchise-best 98 games and their first full season NL East title ever, the Washington Nationals went all-in for the 2013 season. They bumped their payroll by nearly 30%, signing Rafael Soriano, Dan Haren, and Adam LaRoche to eight figure contracts while trading for Denard Span. The moves didn't work out all that well. Washington won just 86 games, finishing four games behind the Reds for the National League's second Wild Card berth. Furthermore, the club already has over $81 million committed to just 11 players for 2014 - including $5 million dedicated to players that are already in their pre-arbitration years. MLBTR projects the Nationals' eight arbitration-eligible players to earn a whopping $37.3 million, putting them right around their 2013 payroll. Now, where will things be getting interesting? In 2015, of course. The club is going to be in even worse shape when it comes to their payroll next year. Rafael Soriano has a club option for $14 million (half-deferred, just like 2013-14) that will become guaranteed if he finishes 62 games in 2014. Adam LaRoche has a club option with a $2 million buyout that will surely be declined. Denard Span has a $9 million option with a $500,000 buyout which could be declined if prospect Brian Goodwin puts it all together (or the team goes in on a free agent outfielder this winter and deals Span). The club has $51 million already allocated to their payroll in 2015 including the buyout options, and that number will balloon when they have to deal with even more arbitration raises that winter. Then, there's the Bryce Harper situation. Harper is owed $2.15 million in 2014 and $2.25 million in 2015 per his rookie contract, but that 2015 salary could increase. Harper and the club are headed for a grievance hearing next offseason in regards to that final year of the contract being voided and Harper heading to arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player. If the Nationals win the hearing, they'll be able to save millions on paying Harper to set themselves up better for the future - but his relationship with the club could be damaged. In order to keep their young core together, the Nationals might have to let Span and Soriano walk, and maybe even make another trade to free some more payroll. If Harper wins his grievance and becomes eligible for arbitration next winter, the team could be looking at upwards of $40 million in salary for just Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Wilson Ramos - and they'd still need to fill at least one spot in the infield and in the outfield. Maybe Goodwin will be ready for 2015. Maybe Danny Espinosa can start in the majors like he did over the past two seasons before falling off a cliff in 2013 and earning a demotion to the minors. Or maybe the Nationals will have to scramble to fill those spots with free agents from a crop that doesn't look very appealing at all and stare mediocrity in the face once again. Is it possible that the Nationals' window may already be closing? Sure it is. Zimmermann and Desmond only have two years of control left, and those are the guys that should be getting some of the huge chunks of money allotted to Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. The team could be OK going forward, but things are going to be getting very dicey start in 2015, and could get downright ugly in 2016. [follow]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker