VIERA, Fla. -- About two hours after getting off the plane in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Nationals closer Chad Cordero found out that he had won his arbitration case. He will earn $4.15 million in 2007 instead of the $3.65 million the Nationals offered. Cordero made $525,000 last season.

The Nationals' record in arbitration cases this year is 1-1. Right-hander John Patterson lost his case last week and will make $850,000. Outfielders Alex Escobar, Austin Kearns and Chris Snelling, and second baseman Felipe Lopez were arbitration-eligible, but the Nationals were able to sign them before they reached arbitration.

"It was interesting," Cordero said. "It was a good thing to see exactly how the business side is. I wish we didn't have to go to arbitration. It's part of the game and part of the business side. I feel real good. I felt better after I got off that plane."

Cordero, 24, felt he had a good argument in his arbitration case because his stats can match up with most of the other top closers in baseball. During his three-plus seasons in the Majors, Cordero has 91 saves and a 2.61 ERA. He set a franchise record with 47 saves in 2005. According to Cordero, his camp told the arbiters on Tuesday that he hardly spent time in the Minors and won the closer's job in just his second season in the big leagues.

The Nationals, according to Cordero, countered with the fact that the right-hander had a down season in 2006 and gave up too many home runs. Cordero saved 29 games, had a 3.19 ERA and gave up 13 long balls.

"My stats did drop off, but it was not a drastic change," Cordero said. "My ERA was up basically because of two outings -- the San Diego game [July 9] and the Atlanta game [May 13]. I gave up a combined 10 runs. [There] wasn't really much [else] they could say."

Nats general manager Jim Bowden said on Wednesday evening that he wasn't sure if the club would win the case and said as much to team president Stan Kasten.

"I felt it was a difficult case," Bowden said. "I communicated to Stan that this was the one case that could go either way. I left the room, but when you have 91 saves at age 24, I'm not completely surprised by the outcome.

"It's a difficult process. What we try to do is communicate with the player before, during and after arbitration. We don't have any hard feelings. It's a big business for both sides, and we have to deal with the ramifications of the process."

Cordero was supposed to attend the workout on Wednesday, but he ended up missing it because of a flight delay. He will return to work on Thursday.

The only player that remains unsigned is Ryan Zimmerman, and Bowden said he is not worried about getting a deal done with the star third baseman.

"When you don't have arbitration rights, the club does not put you on the priority list, but certainly Ryan is an important part of this organization for the long term," Bowden said. "He is the face of the organization. We want to treat him with the most respect we possibly can."

The Minor Leagues: The Nationals have decided to put Chris Marrero at first base while he participates in the team's accelerated program.

Marrero was Washington's first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He was taken as a third baseman, but with Zimmerman expected to man the hot corner for years to come, the Nationals decided to turn Marrero into an outfielder. But he was only average at the position during his brief time with the Gulf Coast Nationals.

During the offseason, Marrero worked with Spring Training instructor Lenny Harris at first base, and the reports were that Marrero moved around the bag pretty well, according to assistant general manager Bob Boone.

Man in the middle: Manager Manny Acta said that he uses stats and goes by his gut feelings when making a strategic decision on the field. He also said he isn't into sacrificing runners unless the pitcher is hitting or it's late in the game.

"The stats are fine. They don't lie, but I need enough to back me up," Acta said. "If a guy goes 0-for-5, that does not mean he can't hit the pitcher. He can get five hits in his next 10 at-bats. Every day is a new day, but if I have enough data, I can go by the stats."

Scouting news: The Nationals announced they have signed a one-year working agreement with the Tabasco Olmecas Baseball Club of the Mexican Summer League. Under the terms of the working agreement, the Nationals and Tabasco agreed to share scouting intelligence.

Washington will be granted access to Tabasco's vast scouting network and information, which is based primarily in, but not limited to, Mexico and Latin America. The agreement also calls for a coaching exchange in which both clubs make information-gathering visits to the other club's Spring Training camp.

This working agreement is the Nationals' first with an international club.

Broadcast news: Almost two months after hiring Don Sutton as a color analyst for Nationals games, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network hired Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight to host "Nats Xtra," which is a pregame show. Debbi Taylor will become the Nationals' new sideline reporter.

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