Nationals' Armas rejects arbitration

Armas rejects Nationals' arbitration offer

Free agent right-hander Tony Armas Jr. has decided not to accept arbitration from the Nationals. He now has until Jan. 8 to negotiate and sign a deal with the team. If both parties can't reach an agreement by then, Armas cannot sign with the Nationals until May 1.

For the third year in a row, Armas had an injury-plagued season in 2005. He continued to have right shoulder problems and had surgery at the end of September. In need of pitching, the Nationals feel that Armas will make a full recovery, and they would like to give him an incentive-laden contract. Last season, Armas went 7-7 with a 4.97 ERA.

"We continue to have dialogue with [Armas'] agent Diego Benz," general manager Jim Bowden said via e-mail.

In other news, right-hander T.J. Tucker, who was arbitration-eligible, said on Monday night he has signed a Minor League deal to stay with the Nationals. He is not expected to be in big-league camp during Spring Training.

Tucker's season ended on June 18, when he was placed on the disabled list because of inflammation on his right elbow. It turned out that he needed Tommy John surgery.

Tucker, 27, said he most likely will not pitch in a big-league game until June.

"It's a whole new elbow and it feels great," Tucker said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.