The Washington Times - February 1, 2012, 03:43PM

The Washington Nationals and John Lannan earned the distinction of being the first to argue an arbitration case in major league baseball this year as the two sides presented in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Wednesday a source confirmed to The Washington Times.

Lannan and the Nationals could not come to an agreement on a raise from his $2.75 million 2011 salary prior to the Jan. 18 deadline for the sides to file arbitration numbers. At that point, sources said, the negotiations were put on hold. Teams are allowed to continue negotiations in hopes of settling up to the point of a hearing but terms couldn’t be agreed upon prior to Lannan’s hearing.

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The Nationals left-hander who was 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts last season filed at $5.7 million while the Nationals countered with $5 million. According to the Associated Press, who first reported the hearing was held, the arbitrators were Robert Herzog, Elizabeth Neumeier and John Skonier. 

A decision is expected to come Thursday and the arbiters will decide on either Lannan’s figure or Washington’s with no chance at middle ground. Lannan, who served as the team’s opening day starter in years past, is expected to compete with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang and left-hander Ross Detwiler for the Nationals’ fourth or fifth rotation spot this spring with one of the three shifting to the bullpen as a long reliever. 

Lannan is the eighth player the Nationals have gone to an arbitration hearing with in their short history and the first time since they defeated both Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett in hearings in 2010. The Nationals have won five of their previous seven arbitration hearings. 

– The Nationals agreed to terms on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to major league spring training with right-handed reliever Chad Durbin. Durbin, a 34-year-old veteran journeyman, pitched to a 5.53 ERA in 68 1/3 innings for the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and joins a host of non-roster invitees who’ll battle for limited space in the Nationals bullpen.

The Nationals have already invited non-roster right-handers Jeff Fulchino, Waldis Joaquin and Rafael Martin to spring training. They’ll also come to camp with 19 pitchers on the active roster, including right-handed relievers Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge, Henry Rodriguez, Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen and Ryan Perry. Left handers Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny are also expected to be part of the team’s bullpen, as well as whomever loses out in the Nationals rotation battle between Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler.

This will be the sixth major league organization Durbin has been a part of including stops in Kansas City, Arizona, Detroit and Philadelphia in addition to Cleveland. ESPN.com was the first to report Durbin’s signing. 

The Nationals have now signed 19 players to minor league contracts:
Right-handed pitchers: Jimmy Barthmaier, Austen Bibens-Dirkx, Dan Cortes, Durbin, Fulchino, Joaquin and Kyle Winters.
Left-handed pitchers: Michael Ballard
Infielders: Andres Blanco, Seth Bynum, Jarrett Hoffpauir, Josh Johnson, Manny Mayorson and Tim Pahuta.
Outfielders: Brett Carroll, Jesus Valdez
Catchers: James Skelton, Carlos Maldonado and Devin Ivany