Source: Jason Marquis, Nationals Agree on Two-Year Deal

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December 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — Free-agent pitcher Jason Marquis and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a two-year contract, pending a physical, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Monday.

One person said the agreement is worth about $15 million. Both spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been signed.

The Nationals issued a "media alert," saying that they would hold a news conference at their stadium on Tuesday to announce a free-agent signing. The team did not identify the player in the release.

The 31-year-old Marquis is a right-hander who went 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 216 innings for the Colorado Rockies in 2009. He made the NL All-Star team last season, thanks to an 11-6 record and 3.65 ERA at that point. But Marquis fizzled down the stretch and wasn't part of the Rockies' postseason starting rotation.

Still, he brings the sort of veteran, innings-eating presence that Washington's starting rotation has been lacking.

He is 94-83 with a 4.48 ERA in a major league career that began in 2000. Marquis has played for the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, in addition to Colorado.

Marquis made at least 32 starts in five of the past six seasons; the lone exception was 2008, when he started 28 games for the Cubs.

Only one pitcher, left-hander John Lannan, made 20 or more starts for Washington last season, when the club finished with the worst record in the majors, 59-103. It was the second consecutive year that the Nationals lost more than 100 games.

The addition of Marquis represents a building block and a step toward fixing one of the Nationals' most glaring weaknesses: starting pitching. He's also the club's biggest move of the offseason so far, following the signing of free-agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a $6 million, two-year deal, and a trade with the New York Yankees for relief pitcher Brian Bruney.

Because Marquis was a Type B free agent and was offered arbitration by the Rockies, Colorado stands to receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds in June's amateur draft.

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