Well, all streaks have to come to an end some time. After 15 consecutive years without going to an arbitration trial, the Red Sox brought Fernando Abad to a hearing on Monday. It was a bit of a surprise that these two sides couldn’t agree on a deal, as their respective filing figures were only separated by $700 thousand. Apparently, though, neither side would budge and they couldn’t simply meet in the middle.
Abad’s case that he should make $2.7 million will likely revolve around the fact that he spent much of the year in Minnesota and was quite good in that time. Obviously, we all remember him from the couple months he spent in Boston, but his time with the Twins is part of the equation here as well. He was one of their better and most consistent relievers during the first half last year, and even worked his way into the closer spot for a short while. Unfortunately for him, he only got one save in that time. Arbitration is somewhat archaic in how it rewards players, and saves is a big money maker in that system.
From this point of view, however, it seems the Red Sox will have an easier time arguing their case. The Red Sox are arguing that Abad should be paid an even $2 million, which for whatever it’s worth is what MLB Trade Rumors projected he’d end up with. They have the counting stats on their side, since as I said Abad hasn’t piled up saves at any point in his career. They can also counter any consistency argument with what he did after being traded to Boston. The biggest factor in my untrained view is that he will be getting a raise from $1.3 million. A $700 thousand raise seems much easier to argue for than a $1.4 million one. Of course, there is plenty of bias here as the vast majority of my Abad viewing came during the worst part of his season.
Whoever ends up winning, it’s still shocking that it has even come to this. Arbitration hearings are a rarity around the sport, and particularly so for the Red Sox. It’s the team’s first hearing since 2002, and Dave Dombrowski’s first since 2003. These are all professionals involved, so hopefully any bad blood or awkwardness that could emerge from the arguments is left in the room. We’ll update when the arbiters makes their decision, which is expected to come at some point on Tuesday.
UPDATE: The Red Sox won the hearing. Abad will make $2 million in 2017.